21 October 2018
Both Quechua and Spanish speakers will tell you right off the bat that the languages don’t have much in common, in spite of having a symbiotic relationship, given the historic background of the continent.
While they’re both pronounced as written, the Quechua language didn’t develop its written form until after the Spanish colonists settled in the Andes.
That fact forced the Quechua language to change and adapt to the Spanish speakers’ hegemony, while at the same time struggling to maintain its roots and soul.
While most Latin-based languages are grammatically structured with sets of nouns, adjectives, verbs, etc. that combine separately in a specific sequence to create meaning, Quechua works a little differently.
In the Inca’s language, long words are built from a base term, adding suffixes to form long and complicated one-word sentences, and relying heavily on metaphors to convey their message.
Here we list some practical examples of general phrases in Quechua. None are particularly easy, but when reading and pronouncing them, remember that Quechua and Spanish have somewhat similar phonetics (ex.: the double /l/ or “ll” sound like an English /y/).
General greeting (How are you?):
(There isn’t an exactly translation for hello or goodbye in Quechua).
Are you ok? / How are you?
¿Allillanchu kachkanki? / ¿Imayna kachkanki?
What is your name?
Good morning / Good afternoon / Good evening
Qanwan allin p’unchay kachun / Qanwan allin sukha kachun / Qanwan allin tuta kachun
Goodbyes (parting phrases)
Huq p’unchaw kama (Until another day)
Tinkunanchiskama (I'll see you later, farewell)
Paqarin kama (Until tomorrow)
Tupananchis kama (general)
(The formality of such terms is a good example of how Andean people often communicate in a very respectful manner in the Peruvian Andes.)
Do you speak English?
(The term “Inglesta” is a classic example of how the Andean people’s language has borrowed from Spanish. In Spanish, English is Ingles, but given that the Incas didn’t use this term its meaning and pronunciation has been adapted by Quechua speakers).
Do you speak Spanish?
¿Misti simita rimankichu?
All of our guides speak English and can readily communicate in both English and Spanish. Even so, it can be fun (and challenging!) to learn a few phrases in Quechua, so as to connect more closely with the ancient Andean culture that you’ll be experiencing.
If you would like to learn some more Quechua or would like for us to add some more phrases to this list, be sure to send us a message and we’ll be happy to expand it!