Jaqaru Speakers in Peru Aim to Save Their Endangered Language

Provincia de Yauyos. Imagen en Flickr del usuario Toni Fish (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Yauyos province, Peru, home to the majority Jaqaru speakers. Image: Flickr by user Toni Fish (CC 2.0).

In the Tupe district of Lima, the roads signs and signals are written in two languages: Spanish and Jaqaru. The latter is the language of the Aymara family; it's currently spoken by just 580 individuals—most of them women.

Jaqaru speakers have made several efforts to preserve their native tongue, as documented by a Facebook group called Portal Yauyos:

La comunidad de hablantes de este idioma está asentados principalmente en la provincia de Yauyos, en los centros poblados de Tupe, Aiza y Colca. Los letreros fueron colocados en las calles y en la municipalidad, las escuelas de Tupe, la I.E. Integrado San Bartolomé, la iglesia y el puesto de salud.

The community that speaks this language is settled mainly in Yauyos province, in the villages around Tupe, Aiza, and Colca. The signals were placed in the streets and the city hall, near the schools in Tupe, the San Bartolomé integrated school, the church, and the rural health post.

A website, also named Portal Yauyos, has more to say about the “Jaqaru universe“:

Tupe, ubicado en la provincia de Yauyos, encierra un sinfín de saberes ancestrales, donde destacan su forma de vestir y el jaqaru, el idioma propio de este pueblo.
Lo más resaltante de Tupe es su idioma: el jaqaru, un legado para la humanidad que nació durante los primeros siglos de nuestra era. Etimológicamente significa “lengua humana”, puesto que proviene de los vocablos Jaqi (hombre o humano) y Aru (hablar o lengua).
En la actualidad el jaqaru posee una gramática que se enseña en la escuela. Así se asegura la continuidad de un idioma ancestral que ha sobrevivido de manera oral y que tiene 36 consonantes y tres vocales. Más sonidos que el quechua y el aimara juntos.

Tupe, located in Yauyos province, has an endless ancestral knowledge, where the way of dress and Jaqaru, the language of the people, stand out. […]

The most outstanding thing in Tupe is its language: Jaqaru, the heritage for humanity that has its origin during the first centuries of our age. Etymologically, it means “human language,” as it comes from the terms Jaqi (man or human) and Aru (to speak or language).

Nowadays, Jaqaru includes a grammar that is taught at school. Thus, the continuity of an ancestral language that has survived orally is now assured as a language with 36 consonants and three vowels (more sounds than Quechua and Aymara combined).

According to blog Distrito de Tupe, the name of the city originates from a Jaqaru word:

Tupe proviene de la palabra Jaqaru, “Txupi”, que significa “juntos, tupido, pegado”, en este caso los cerros de Tupinachaka, Pupr´e, Wuaqaña y Kurgnichi, están juntos, pegados.

Tupe comes from the Jaqaru word “Txupi,” which means “together, dense, think.” In this case, the mountains of Tupinachaka, Pupr´e, Wuaqaña and Kurgnichi are together—right beside each other.

On Twitter, there are frequent updates about Jaqaru and the ways its speakers preserve the langage:

Here we have more information about Tupe village, using signals written in Jaqaru.

Streets and public shops use signals in Jaqaru language in Tupe, in Lima's highlands.

A student of Bartolomé Herrera school recites a poem in Jaqaru, showing this language is much alive.

Tupe: Jaqaru universe. Get to know it here.

Read more about Good Intercultural Practice “Registro Civil Bilingüe: Peruvian Civil Registry rescues Jaqaru language.”

Linguistic landscape is ever changing and Jacaru makes us think that the Aymara family was not always where we thought it was.

Start the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices!

Submitted addresses will be confirmed by email, and used only to keep you up to date about Global Voices and our mission. See our Privacy Policy for details.

Newsletter powered by Mailchimp (Privacy Policy and Terms).

* = required field
Email Frequency

No thanks, show me the site