Puquina languages
Lake Titicaca
Extinct18th century
Linguistic classificationUsually unclassified
ISO 639-3puq
Pukina language distribution around 1600 CE, Pukina toponyms, and pre-Inca Pukina ethnicities.

Puquina (or Pukina) is a small, putative language family, often portrayed as a language isolate, which consists of the extinct Puquina language and Kallawaya, although it is assumed that the latter is just a remnant of the former mixed with Quechuan. The Qhapaq simi, which was spoken by the Inca elite, in contrast to the Quechuan-speaking commoners, is thought to be related, as well as the Leco language, generally considered a language isolate. They are spoken by several native ethnic groups in the region surrounding Lake Titicaca (Peru and Bolivia) and in the north of Chile. Puquina itself is often associated with the culture that built Tiwanaku.


Remnants of the single, ancestral Puquina language can be found in the Quechuan and Spanish languages spoken in the south of Peru, mainly in Arequipa, Moquegua and Tacna, as well as in Bolivia. There also seem to be remnants in the Kallawaya language, which may be a mixed language formed from Quechuan languages and Puquina. (Terrence Kaufman (1990) finds the proposal plausible.[3]) The language probably went extinct sometime around the 18th century.

Some theories claim that "Qhapaq Simi", the cryptic language of the nobility of the Inca Empire, was closely related to Puquina, and that Runa Simi (Quechuan languages) were spoken by commoners. The Leco language might also be related.[3]

Moulian et al. (2015) argue that Puquina language influenced Mapuche language of southern Chile long before the rise of the Inca Empire.[4] This areal linguistic influence may have started with a migratory wave arising from the collapse of the Tiwanaku Empire around 1000 CE.[4][5]

Sometimes the term Puquina is used for the Uru language, which is distinctly different.


Puquina has been considered an unclassified language family, since it has not been proven to be firmly related to any other languages in the Andean region. A relationship with the Arawakan languages has long been suggested, based solely on the possessive paradigm (1st no-, 2nd pi-, 3rd ču-), which is similar to the Proto-Arawakan subject forms (1st *nu-, 2nd *pi-, 3rd *tʰu-). Jolkesky (2016: 310–317) has presented further possible lexical cognates between Puquina and the Arawakan languages, proposing that this language family belongs to the putative Macro-Arawakan stock along with the Candoshi and the Munichi languages. However, such a hypothesis still lacks conclusive scientific evidence.

In this regard, Adelaar and van de Kerke (2009: 126) have pointed out that if in fact the Puquina languages are, genetically, related to the Arawakan languages, its separation from this family must have occurred at a relatively early date; the authors further suggest that in such a case the location of the Puquina speakers should be taken into account in the debate over the geographic origin of the Arawakan family. Such consideration was taken up by Jolkesky (op. cit., 611–616) in his archaeo-ecolinguistic model of diversification of the Macro-Arawakan languages. According to this author, the proto-Macro-Arawakan language would have been spoken in the Middle Ucayali River Basin during the beginning of the 2nd millennium BCE and its speakers would have produced the Tutishcainyo pottery found in this region.

Jolkesky (2016) classifies Puquina as a Macro-Arawakan language.[6]

Language contact

Jolkesky (2016) notes that there are lexical similarities with the Jaqi, Kawapana, Kechua, Pano, and Uru-Chipaya language families due to contact.[7]


Numerals in Puquina and other nearby languages:[8]

Numeral Puquina Kallawaya Uru Quechua Aymara
1 pesq uksi shi huk ~ shuk maya
2 so soo pisqe iskay paya
3 qapa qapi chcp kimsa kimsa
4 sper pili pakpik tawa pusi
5 taqpa chisma paanuqo pisqa pisqa
6 chichun tajwa pachuy suqta sojta (qallqo)
7 stu kajsi tohonqo qanchis pa qallqo
8 kina wasa qonqo pusaq kimsa qallqo
9 cheqa nuki sanqaw isqun lla-tunqa
10 sqara jocha qalo chunka tunqa

Pronouns in Puquina and other nearby languages:[8]

English Puquina Kallawaya Uru Quechua Aymara
I ni nisi wiril ñuqa naya
you (sg.) pi chuu amp qam juma
he chu, hi chuinin tis, nis pay jupa
we (inclusive) nich nisiyku uchumi ñuqayku jiwasa
we (exclusive) señ nisinchej wisnaqa ñuqanchik nanaka
you (pl.) pich chuukunas ampchuqa qamkuna jumanaka
they chuch chuininkuna nisnaqa paykuna jupanaka

Loukotka (1968) lists the following basic vocabulary items for Puquina and Kallawaya (which he calls Pohena).[9]

gloss Puquina Kallawaya
one pesk uxsi
two so suyo
three kapak kxapi
head kxutu
eye sekbi paxañi
hand kupi sui
woman atago atasi
water unu mimi


  1. ^ "The Puquina and Leko languages - Advances in Native South American Historical Linguistics". 52ica.etnolinguistica.org.
  2. ^ "The Much Debated History of Quechua". January 18, 2014.
  3. ^ a b Willem Adelaar; Simon van de Kerke. "The Puquina and Leko languages". Symposium: Advances in Native South American Historical Linguistics, July 17-18, 2006, at the 52nd International Congress of Americanists, Seville, Spain. Retrieved 2007-09-19.
  4. ^ a b Moulian, Rodrígo; Catrileo, María; Landeo, Pablo (2015). "Afines quechua en el vocabulario mapuche de Luis de Valdivia" [Akins Quechua words in the Mapuche vocabulary of Luis de Valdivia]. Revista de lingüística teórica y aplicada (in Spanish). 53 (2): 73–96. doi:10.4067/S0718-48832015000200004. Retrieved January 13, 2019.
  5. ^ Dillehay, Tom D.; Pino Quivira, Mario; Bonzani, Renée; Silva, Claudia; Wallner, Johannes; Le Quesne, Carlos (2007) Cultivated wetlands and emerging complexity in south-central Chile and long distance effects of climate change. Antiquity 81 (2007): 949–960
  6. ^ Jolkesky, Marcelo Pinho De Valhery. 2016. Estudo arqueo-ecolinguístico das terras tropicais sul-americanas. Doutorado em Linguística. Universidade de Brasília.
  7. ^ Jolkesky, Marcelo Pinho de Valhery (2016). Estudo arqueo-ecolinguístico das terras tropicais sul-americanas (Ph.D. dissertation) (2 ed.). Brasília: University of Brasília.
  8. ^ a b Aguiló, Federico. 2000. El Idioma del Pueblo Puquina: Un enigma que va aclarándose. Quito, Ecuador: Intercultural de las Nacionalidades Pueblos Indígenas/Fondo Ecuatoriano Populorum Progressio. 116pp.
  9. ^ Loukotka, Čestmír (1968). Classification of South American Indian languages. Los Angeles: UCLA Latin American Center.