Quechua Basics Bootcamp

Runasimita pata-pataQuechua steps

A long time ago
In a galaxy far, far away ...

I was a programmer. I coded in various languages for various industries and at a university. But not in HTML. Until now.

How and Why This Site Began

When I went to Peru for the first time in 2013 with my beloved
ayllufamily, group
to study with my teacher, I was given a dream while camping at Lake Pomacanchi. Unlike most of my dreams, this one woke me up from a deep sleep in the middle of the night. When I related it to my teacher the next morning at breakfast, he said: "do you know what this dream means?" I replied that the Spirits were asking me to learn Quechua. "Yes" he said. So I started looking. These pages started out as a way to help me to learn and to grow in my understanding. It is my hope that they will help you, too. Here I focus on the form of Quechua spoken in Cusco and the Sacred Valley, Southern Quechua, or Quechua IIc.

Learning Quechua is absolutely essential for the Misha Carrier and student of the Andean Cosmology

Why go to all of this trouble? Isn't learning the ceremonies, the forms enough? Not exactly. My teacher tells us that Quechua is energetic, tranfsormational, and creational. It is one of the languages of the Pachamama and the Apukuna and of all the Beings of the Andean Cosmology. As you learn it and speak it,
Runa Similit. 'People's Mouth (language)'
transforms you, your misha, and your energy centers, opening spaces, portals, and pathways inside you. Quechua connects us more deeply to the pacha of the Andean Cosmology. Being serious about the Andean ñan (path) means sacrificing time and effort to learn the language. The Spirits honor our sacrifices as a measure of the sincerity of our commitment. "Spanish is a cold language" says my teacher. "English is even colder."

Learning the language opens the door to the culture. Runa Simi centers us within a worldview that is vastly different from our natal one; it reinforces the concepts of
aynisacred reciprocity, harmony
, ayllu,
pacha"place/time, also: universe"
, and of mutual help and mutual respect. It carries the principle of organization, both in your person, in your energy, and in your relationship to the world. "Every life is essential", that each of us carries within us an Inca Seed, a drop of the Mystery so powerful, enormous, wondrous, and unique that cultivating it is necessary for the survival and thriving of all Beings.

Notes about the Language

Quechua is the most widely-spoken indigenous language on planet Earth. It is a blessedly regular, well-organized language. Organization is embedded in the culture. Because of this, the language lends itself well to automated drills and exercises. I offer these as a aid and as a way to bootstrap and reinforce your learning. Nothing takes the place of diligent study.

The beautiful thing about Quechua is that it is agglutinative; you simply add endings and particles to words to change the meaning. This is also the tough thing about Quechua -- we must learn TONS of word particles in order to communicate and understand meaning.

Layers and Levels of Meaning

Words in the Quechua language have levels of meaning, each more profound than the next. At its basic level, for instance, munay means "to like, to enjoy, to love". At a more profound level, munay means "to unconditionally accept everything exactly the way that it is." Similarly, many of us know the word pacha as "specific time/place." Pacha in its deeper meaning is something like "everything that can be known/understood about [x], the entire universe of meaning and understanding of [x]." So, Pachamama is simultaneously "The Earth Mother" / "The Cosmic Mother", and also "the entire universe and understanding of 'Mother'."

Spelling and Orthography

There is no official spelling standard for the Quechua language: in Cusco one can see a street name spelled one way on a street sign and a different way on the other side of the street. Phonetics are key. In these pages I try to adhere to one of the most popular spelling agreements.

There is also large regional variety in the use of different words for similar things:
The last time I was in Peru, I made a
mañakuyprayer, invocation
to "Mama Unu", the Mother of the Waters. "You would never say it like that. Say 'Mama Yaku'" said the
paqoAndean mystic
I was working with. Two days later I was working with different paqos from a different village. When I made my mañakuy to "Mama Yaku", one of the paqos said, "You would never say it like that. Say 'Mama Unu'". It is a given that you will encounter these variations. I do my best to provide the varieties of expression that I know.

Who am I and what are my Quechua Credentials?

I am a beginner and not an expert. Wawahina rimani, wawahina yachani: "I speak like a baby, I understand like a baby". My understanding of the language is in its infancy, and at best, structural and not very nuanced. It's a certainty that I've made mistakes here. As I grow in my learning, so will these pages'content and capability. As a student of the Andean Cosmology and at the request of the Spirits, I am learning Quechua, Runa Simi, "People's Tongue", one of the indigenous languages of the Andes.
Runasimita yachashani"I am learning Quechua." 'People's Tongue-obj learn-ongoing-am-I'
. I am also learning HTML, CSS, and JavaScript as I create these pages. Here, all of these things come together. For now the pages are functional, and, I hope, factual. All errors are mine.

Each section contains a small lesson and opportunities to repeat what you've learned and test yourself. These pages are intended to offer you opportunities to learn and to practice at the level I am able to offer at present. I'll add as I learn.

Ayni and Gratitude

I give honor and great respect and gratitude to my teachers, Tupaq, Claudio, Victor Chura Quispe, don Climaco, Raymondo, Beto, Wayra, to the Pachamama and to the Apukuna, to the Runa Simi Pacha, to my beloved ayllu members, and to so many others for guiding me, correcting me, and for helping me along the way along the path of the Andean Cosmology and in the learning of this richly nuanced indigenous language. They have done this freely and with no expectation in return. A great portion of your 'coffee' donations below go directly to my friends in the Andes.

My dear beloved little sisters and brothers, Panachaykuna, Wayqechaykuna, so I give to you. Enjoy :-)

First Steps

Before you begin, here are some tips and suggestions on how to make studying Quechua a little easier

Here's a great overview: Quechua Basics for Mesa Carriers, v.7 by Anonymous at incaglossary.org

Quechua Grammar I Quechua Vocabulary I
Pronouns - I, You, He/She/It ... Colors
Verb Conjugations - Present, Present OnGoing, Past, Future Numbers: Cardinals, Ordinals, and Multiples
Articles and Plurals Parts of the Body & Primary Energy Centers
Possessives Vocabulary for Ceremony, Ceremonial Clothing, and Tools
Introduction to Quechua Suffixes and Word Particles Vocabulary for Camping and Trekking
Multi-Purpose Suffixes Features of the Landscape
Module 1 Review - Putting it All Together

Site Overview - Links to All Pages & Resources for Further Study