Jan 31, 2010

La Nacion Article

Although it is still unusual for language schools in Buenos Aires to teach native languages, some already offer this option and are driving more and more attention. As the Buenos Aires University Language Center (CUI), which in three years multiplied by eight the number of students of Quechua, Mapuche, and Guarani.

The Native American Language Program began in 2006 with an enrollment of 30 people. While in 2009 the figure rose significantly, enrolment surprised the organizers and reached 258 students. In 2009, enrolment for the course of Quechua rose up to 164 students, for the Guarani, 77, and the Mapuche, 17.

"The funny thing is that much of the spreading of these courses is from mouth to mouth. It's the the same students who promote them and they do not drop out. They are hooked to the classes and cultural activities," said the coordinator of languages at the CUI Monica Gonzalez Thompson.
There are no limits, no specific age ranges for these classes. "I have very young students, who just finished high school, to people over 70 years. All with different motivations," explained Professor of Mapuche, Tulio Cañumil.

Tulio belongs to the Mapuche community and has spent several years teaching at various cultural centers and, since 2006, at the CUI. "My idea has always been to reappreciate our culture through language and, thinking something more adapted to the guariache, (actually, wariace, the Mapuche word for town people), I did the project for this course", said the teacher.

But the task was not so simple. To teach Mapuche there are no specific literature in bookstores, therefore Tulio and staff of the institution thought up teaching materials and a dictionary of about 2,000 words with which students learn.

"It looks old, but it is pretty used," said Elpidia Carrasco, 69, as he showed the Mapuche dictionary she carries in her purse. "I am (from) Gulumapu (from the other side of the Andes in Mapuche - Note: actually, Land on the West) and always wanted to learn Mapuche, for my ancestors. But due to time constraints I couldn't before now, so now I'm doing it, "said Elpidia, who was born in Temuco (Chile) and has lived in Argentina for more than 50 years now.

Edgardo Hager, 39, is not a descendant from any original community - indeed, their ancestors are German, but does not hesitate to highlight the value of learning the culture of the country through the Native Languages. "Without realizing it, in Buenos Aires we use a lot of Mapuche toponyms. Like the names of some cities, like Cariló, meaning 'Green dune'", said Edgardo.

Foreigners at home

With the course of Guarani something similar happens: students seek to rescue the language that is still spoken in a vast region of Argentina, especially in the North-East of the country. "Many are descendants and others come by anthropological interest, to learn phonetics and to communicate with people from the community," said Professor Ignacio Baez, who is an Avaguaraní, from Paraguay.

Maria Cristina Anari is one of her pupils and said that for her it is a challenge to study Guarani. "It is the sixth language I learn, but Guarani is one of the most difficult. I'm from Buenos Aires and I always had some affinity for this language, I'm interested in understanding it in order to know my husband's mother tongue," she said.

According to the teacher and Marta Saldivia, a student from Entre Rios, the teaching of this language was not encouraged for a long time. "That there is greater openness now to teach this language and to respect the origin of our culture is significant," said Marta.

"We thought it was an obligation, from the ethical point of view, to offer these courses that seek to reach deep in different cultures through language. Sometimes they look like foreign languages, but the are spoken in our territory, so we owed ourselves a program like this", said the director of CUI, Roberto Villarruel.

The classes in Quechua, Guarani and Mapuche begin in March and enrolment is now open. In the city of Buenos Aires, the Centro Cultural Rojas also teaches Quechua. And in the suburbs, the National University of La Matanza teaches Guarani, Quechua and Aymara.

Silvia Barrojo

I'm at La Nacion Newspaper

Out of curiosity, family roots or workGrowing interest in learning to speak Native American Languages

Quechua, Mapuche and Guaraní classrooms multiply their students

lanacion.com | Culture | Sunday 31 January 2010
(Article in Spanish)

Jan 17, 2009

How do you say...?

Some structures will allow us to interact with a native speaker of Mapucezugun without having to use any other language.

- ¿Cem am...?

¿Cem am ta tvfa? = What's this?
...Tvfa ta wagku. = this is a bench / chair
Note: remmeber the use of "tvfa" (Demonstrative Pronouns) in entry "Sixth - Pronouns"

¿Cem am ta tvfey? = What's that?
...Tvfey ta kawej = That's a horse

¿Cem am ta tvye? = What's that (over there)?
...Tvye ta mawiza = That's a mountain

The election among "tvfa", "tvfey" and "tvye" will depnd on the relative position of the object and the speakers.

Another important phrase is:
¿Cem am ta .... wigkazugun mew?
How do you say .... in wigka*?
*Note: the word "wigka" is used to mark all that is not Mapuce. In this case, it would mean Spanish but also could mean any other foreign language.
¿Cem am ta ñarki wigkazugun mew?
Ñarki ta
"cat" wigkazugun mew

Another usefull phase would be:
¿Cem am ta tvfa /tvfey / tvye mapuzugun mew?
This would be used to ask how something (the pointed object) is called in Mapucezugun.
¿Cem am ta tvfa mapuzugun mew?
Tvfa ta...
After the connecting particle "ta" the word will describe how the object is called.

- ¿Cem am ta tvfa?
- T
vfa ta pici kujkuj

Note: [1] Prof. Cañumil said a neologism has been created from the old word "kujkuj" => "pici kujkuj" meaning "small kull-kull / küll-küll".

Image: Küll-küll made from the horn of a sheep,Victoria, 1968. Source: Memoria Chilena

A "kujkuj" was an instrument used to send messages at long distances. In their work "Crear Nuevas Palabras", Francesco Chiodi and Elisa Loncon describe the use of this instruments as:
"antes no existía el teléfono, la gente se llamaba con el kujkuj, subían a la cima de los cerros para que la llamada se escuchara mejor"[2]
Translation: "Long time ago there was no telephone, people used to call eachother with the kujkuj, they climbed to the top of a hill so the call would be heard better."
Any resemblance with a cell phone is not merely coincidental.

The text in Mapuzugun goes:
Kuyfi mvlekelafuy zuguluwvnwe*, re kujkuj mu mvxvmtukefuy pu ce, wecuñtu** winkul mu pvrakefuygvn ñi zoy* kvme amual mvxvm
(Chodi et al, op. cit. pag. 119)

Note: the words marked with * have been adapted to Mapuzugun as written in Puelmapu (replacing the original "d" of "dugu" in the text for "z" in "zugu")[3]
"Kuyfi" refers to a time in the remote past, "mvlekelafuy " is formed with the verbal root "mvle-" + particles "-ke-" (habitual or customary action marker) + "-la-" (negation marker for the Realis Mood only) + "-fu-" (this particle marks the action happend long time ago)
"zuguluwvnwe" is formed by the root "zugu-" (to speak / to talk) => "zuguluwvn" means "to talk to eachother" (Chiodi et al op. cit.). The final particle "-we" is an instrumental marker. The particle "-we" can also be a place marker: itmarks the place where an action takes place: "kexan" (to plow) and "kexawe" means "the place that is plowed"
"Re" means "only" and "mu" is the contraction or shorter form of the postposition "mew" [4]
In "mvxvmtukefuy" are easily identified the particles "-ke-" and "-fu-" and the verbal root "mvxvm-" (to call up). Remember the use of the particle "-tu-" as explained in previous entries. "Pu" is a plural marker (this is a Free or Independent Particle). "Ce" means "people", as previously explained.
"Wecuñtu" means "summit / top / highest part of". I marked this word with a ** as the word was also adapted to the written language in Puelmapu. In Gulumapu it is written "wecuntu" (in this work Chiodi et al describe these variations due to the acculturation of the Mapuce. See op. cit. pag. 16-19)
"Winkul" means "hill" and "mu" was also explained in this entry.
"Pvrakefuygvn" is formed by the verbal root "pvra-" (to go up) and the particles described in this entry. Notice the suffix "-ygvn" 3rd Pers. Plural.
The expression "ñi zoy kvme amual mvxvm" could translated as "so their call (is) sent better". Some dependent clauses in Mapuzugun are built using a possessive.
Interesting though is the construction of a sort of suplerlative form:
"kvme" (adj. "good") => "zoy kvme" ("better").
"Amual mvxvm" could be translated as "sending calls"
"Pvrakefuygvn ñi zoy kvme amual mvxvm" could be translated as "They used to go up the hill (for) the better sending of their call" This "ñi"-clauses are commomly used in Mapucezugun and should be explained in another entry.

[2]Crear Nuevas Palabras (Creating New Words). Francesco Chiodi and Elisa Loncon. Instituto de Estudios Indígenas (Institute of Indigenous Studies). 1997. Versión Electrónica
[3] Wixaleyiñ, Mapucezugun-wigkazugun pici hemvlcijka - Pequeño diccionario castellano-mapuche (Small Dictionary Spanish-Mapuche), Berreta M, Cañumil D, Cañumil T, 1a Ed. Editado por los autores, Buenos Aires, 2008. ISBN 978-987-05-4139-4 - I used this dictionary to check the correct spelling of words and for translating the texts in this entry.
[4] Notes take in class.

Jan 16, 2009

16th - Particles "-fu-" and "-em"

The particle of time "-fu-" is commonly used together with the particle "-em" to mark sorrow.

Cucu = grandmother (mother's mother)
Ñi cucuem = my grandmother (who passed away)

When the modified word ends in "-e" the semivowel "-y-" is added for euphonic reasons.

Ñuke = mother
Ñi ñukeyem = his mother (who passed away)

Sometimes it used to express sympathy:
Kuralge = eye
Agkvrkefuy ñi kuralgeyem = His poor eyes dried up (long time ago) !! (to mean "he lost his sight")

Note: the verb "agkvn" /aŋ'kən/ means "to dry up". Notice the use of the middle particle "-rke-" marks a story or account. It is also used to express surprise or wonder.

15th - Particles (Cont.)

In this entry I will introduce the Particles of Time.

These particles specify when an action was carried out or took place (as we saw in my previous entry, the particle "-le-" marks the action is happening now)

Particle "-ke-" [1] identifies habitual or customary actions.
...xekan = to walk
...xekaken = I usually walk.

Particle "-a-" [1] marks the future tense
...ajkvtun = to listen
...ajkvtuan = I will listen
Verbs whose root ends in "-a", the semivocal "-y-" is added for euphonic reasons.
...xekan = to walk => root: "xeka-" + suffix for the 1st Pesron Singular: "-n"
...xekayan = I will walk
The "-y-" can be omitted, resulting in: "xekaan"

Particle "-pe-" [1] marks an event in the immediate past, something that just happened
...ajkvtun = to listen
...ajkvtupen = I just heard

Particle "-fu-" [1] marks an event in the remote past, something that happened long time ago.
...ajkvtun = to listen
...ajkvtufun = I heard (long time ago)

Particles of time can be used in combination with other particles to modify or refine the meaning.
Tañi bakuem xekakefuy tvfaci lelfvn mew
Translation: My poor Grandfather (father's father) used to walk in these fields long time ago

Notes to my translation: As we already saw, "tañi" means "my" (notice that "ñi" also stands for "his/her"), "baku" means "your father's father", the final particle "-em" is added to persons that have passed away (it is used to express sorrow - the used of this particle will be explained in another entry)
"xekakefuy" is formed by the verb root "xeka-" meaning "to walk", the middle particle "-ke-" (marking the action was habitual), the middle particle "-fu-" marks the action happened long time ago, the suffix "-y" marks the 3rd. person singular.
"Tvfaci" means "this/these", "lelfvn" means "field" but also "fields" (as Mapuzugun nouns have either number nor gender), and "mew" is a postposition meaning in this context "in"

[1] Mapucezugun Ñi Cumgeel - Descripción de la lengua Mapuche (Description of the Mapuche language), Cañumil, T. Versión electrónica,

Jan 15, 2009

14th - Particles

Particles are morphemes that produce systematic, regular changes in the meaning of other morphemes they are added to.[1]

These particles can appear alone or in groups following a certain preset order.[2]
They do not have a meaning by themselves but only add meaning to the words they modify.[2]
In Mapuzugun, particles modify tense, number, mark negations, etc. [2]

There are 3 types of particles:
1. Intermediate or Middle Particles
2. Final particles
3. Independent or Free Particles

Intermediate or Middle Particles: are the ones placed between the root and the suffix of the verbs that they modify.
These particles will be listed as "-xx-".

Final Particles: are the ones that are added at the end of a word.
These particles will be listed as "-xx"

Independent or Free Particles: are the ones that are written separatelly from the word the modify.

Middle Particles can be classified as[2]:

1. Of time: mark the time when the action or state described by the verb takes place.

2. Of mood: mark some characterictics about the action or state described by the verb.

3. Of place: mark the place or direction in which an action is made.

4. Markers (Objectives): mark the object affected by the action verb.

5. Of negation: mark the negation of the verb.
There is a negative particle for each of the 3 moods in Mapuzugun: realis mood, volitive mood and conditional mood.

Particle "-le-" (of time):
This particle is placed bertween the verbal root and the suffix, and it is used:

i. To describe events happening now.
...xekan: I walked (to walk)
...xekalen: I am walking
Dynamic verbs (that express an action) imply the action is concluded. Adding the particle "-le-" changes the meaning to describe the event is happening now.

ii. To denote states, rather than actions
....apon: to fill
...apolen: to be full

iii. It is used to verbalize words that are not verbs.
....kvme: good
...kvmelen: to be good / fine
Note: as we saw in other entries, the response to the question: "¿cumleymi?" was: "Iñce kvmelen"
....xemon: healthy
...xemolen: to be healthy.
When the verbal root ends in consonant, remember the particle "-kv-" is added for euphonic reasons.
...kuxan: pain, sickness.
...kuxankvlen: it hurts (lit. I am in pain) / I am ill.
Note: to say something hurts it is used the verb in 3rd. person.
"Ñi logko kuxankvley"[3]
Lit. My head is in pain / my head hurts

"Some of these particles in Mapuzugun might have its origin in verbs"
Prof. Cañumil expressed that it is very likely that origin for this particle would be the verb "mvlen" (to be -only the stative meaning: indicating a state or condition)

Pici gvxamkan: (Small dialogues)

Carla and José greet each other:
Karla: Puh may, lamgen. ¿cumleymi?
Kose: Iñce k
vmelen. ¿Eymi kay?
Karla: Iñce kafey.
Note: "kafey" means "too"

Juan meets Rayen who does not look well
Kuan: Mari mari, lamgen. ¿Xemoleymi?
Rayen: Mari mari. Iñce k
vxankvlen. Kvxankvley tañi furi. ¿Eymi kay?
Kuan: Iñce xemolekan
Note: the particle "-ka-" is used as an emphasizer.

Other particles will be described in next entries.

[2] Cañumil, Tulio et al, op. cit.
[3] Class notes: 21 April 2008.