Dec 28, 2008

Tenth - Numerals

Numerals represent a number.

1. kiñe
2. epu
3. kvla
4. meli
5. kecu
6. kayu
7. reqle
8. pura
9. ayja
10. mari
100. pataka
1000. waranka

Note: "pataka" and "waranka" were taken from Quechua[1]

11. mari kiñe
12. mari epu
20. epu mari
22. epu mari epu
110. pataka mari
2498. epu waranka meli pataka ayja mari pura.

Numbers in Mapuzugun are made up of just 12 words that are combined to represent any number.
20 is formed by "epu" + "mari" = "epu mari" = two (times)* ten.
300 from the combination of "kvla" + "pataka" = "kvla pataka" = three (times)* hundred.

*the word "times" is used in the translation as a way to make the structure easier to understand.
Actually, 222 is written: epu pataka epu mari epu (literally: two hundred two ten two) making numbers in Mapuzugun a very easy and very logical construction.

To express "twice / two times" the particle "-ci" is added to the numeral.
Kiñeci = once,
Epuci = twice, etc.

¡Marici wew! = ¡diez veces victoria! [2]
This phrase is commonly used by certain comunities or "lof" of the Mapuce people.

Numbers that did not exist in Mapuzugun were taken from Spanish:
"sero" and
"mijon" /mi'ʎon/.

In his Grammar, Raguileo already added the words "mijon"[1] and "sero"

[1] Cañumil, Tulio et al, op. cit.
[2] Translation by Tulio Cuñimil. In her book Lucía Golluscio (El Pueblo Mapuche: poéticas de pertenencia y devenir. Ed. Biblos, Buenos Aires, 2006, pag. 207) translates this phrase as: "Diez veces estamos vivos... diez veces venceremos!" (ten times alive, ten times we will win/defeat). Howwever, as it is clearly seen "marici" means "ten times" and "wew" means "victory". Each lof added a colective meaning to this expression.

Nov 25, 2008

Ninth - Adjectives

An adjective is a word whose main role is to modify a noun or pronoun, giving more information about the noun or pronoun's referent.[5]

In Mapuzugun, adjectives do not agree neither in number nor in gender with the substantive.[1] They are always placed before the noun they modify.[4]

Adjectives in Mapuzugun can have a plural marker[1] (see note about plural partitive at the footnote in this entry), which is formed by adding the end particle "-ke" to the adjective.
Fvxa (big) ce (people): The big people (grownup/s)
Fvxake ce: In this case, the meaning is "big people" (and not "the" big people)
Kvme (good) zomo (woman):
kvmeke zomo (good women and not "the" good women)

Adjectives do not agree with the gender of the modified noun.
Kvme (good) remanis unchanged, even before certain nouns that intrinsically mark a gender (e.g. wenxu = "man" and zomo = "woman")
Kvme wenxu = good man
Kvme zomo = good woman
Kvme caw = good father
Kvme ñuke = good mother

1. Demonstrative adjectives[1]
Are formed by the Demonstrative Pronoun + the particle "-ci"
Tvfaci: this, these
Tvyeci: that, those
Tvfaci kawej: this horse
Tvfaci zomo: this woman
Tvyeci wigkul: that hill
Tvyeci ufisa: that seep
Note: "tvfa" and "tvye" without the particle "-ci" mean "here there is a..." and "there, there is a..."
Remember the absense of the verb "to be" in this kind of sentences.
Tvfa kawej: "here is a horse", "there is a horse here"
Tvye ufisa: "there is a sheep", "there is a sheep over there"

2. Possessive adjectives:
These adjectives mark possession (to whom something belongs)

1st pers. (iñce) ñi (my)
2nd pers. (eymi) mi (your)
3rd pers. (fey) ñi (his, her, its)

1st pers. (iñciw) yu (our: of the two of us)
2nd pers. (eymu) mu (yours: of you two)
3rd pers. (feyegu) ñi (their: of the two of them)

1st pers. (iñciñ) yiñ (our: of all of us)
2nd pers. (eymvn) mvn (your)
3rd pers. (feyegvn) ñi (their)

Note that both the possessive for the 1st person singular "iñce" and the possessive for the 3rd person in all groups are the same. If the speaker considers that this may be confusing for the hearer, the personal pronoun is added.
Iñce ñi ruka = my house
Fey ñi ruka = his house
Feyegu ñi ruka = their house (of the two of them)
Feyegvn ñi ruka = their house (of them all)

The particle "ta-" can be used, having only an expletiv function[3]
Iñce ñi waka rume moxi (my caw is very fat)[1]
Ñi waka rume moxi
Tañi waka rume moxi
Note: "rume" means "very". "Moxin" means: fat.

Iñciw yu kvzaw zoy kvmey
Our job is better or literally, "(we) our work more good"[1]
Other options:
Yu kvzaw zoy kvmey
Tayu kvzaw zoy kvmey
Note: "zoy" means "more". "Kvmen" (it a verb devived from "kvme" = "good") and means: "to be good".

The possessivo agrees with the subject in the sentence and is palced before the possessed noun.[4]
Tvfa ñi meli kawej = these (are) my four horses (remember the verb "to be" is not in this kind of sentences)
This could also be: Tvfa iñce ñi meli kawej
Note: the adjective is placed between the possessivo marker and the noun.
Tvye (iñciñ) yiñ wenxu xewa = that (is) our dog.

[1] Cañumil, Tulio et al, op. cit.
Nota: the
partitive plural is a grammatical number that is used to modify a noun which represents a part of some whole amount, as opposed to the comprehensive plural, used when the noun represents the total amount of something. The partitive indicates an indefinite quantity of a noun.
This case is not found in English.

In Mapuzugun the plural partitive marks a noun without specific identity.
Kiñeke ce koxv iyael kvmentukey = Some people like salty food[2].
Compare this with: Pu mapuce kvmentukey napor = The mapuche people like herbs[2]
Other examples
Re picike poñv xipay = We harvested only small potatoes[2]
Fvtake kagkan mvley gijatun mew = There are big grills in a Guillatun [2]
Kuseke ufisa yafv ilo niey = Old sheeps have tough meat[2]
[2] Catrileo, María, Diccionario Lingüístico-Etnográfico de la Lengua Mapuche, Ed. Andrá Bello, 1998
[3] The "expletive" function of a word (or particle, in this case) means that the word or particle performs a syntactic role but contribute nothing to meaning. It is used to complete or harmonize the phrase.
[4] Catrileo, Maria, Mapudunguyu - Curso de lengua mapuche, Univ. de Chile, Facultad de Filisofía y humanidades, 1988
Note: Maria Catrileo's book is written using the Unified Alphabet and the transcriptions in this entry were adapted by me. Should you find a mistake, please do write me an email or leave your comment for this entry.

Nov 20, 2008

Eighth - Caliwvn (Greetings)

Usual Greetings.

The standard greeting among the Mapuce people is "mari mari".
It cannot be translated literally as it just repeats twice the numeral "mari" = ten.
After this phrase, it is usually added the word "brother/sister" that presents certain particularities.
Women should call both men and women using the word: "lamgen" (also pronounced "lamien" or "lamuan" depending on the local varitations)
Men say "lamien" ("lamgen" / "lamuan") to women BUT "peñi" to other men.

1. Gvxamkan: Conversation:

- Mari mari
- Mari mari, ¿cumleymi?
- (Iñce) k
vmelen, ¿eymi kay?
- Iñce kafey

- Mari mari, ¿cumleymi?
Note the use of the inverted question mark as in Spanish: ¿cumleymi?
This question is composed by the interrogative pronoun "cum-" = how; "-le-" as we explained in a previous entry (Seventh - Pronouns, 4.5.) this particle marks that what is being asked or mentioned is happening at the moment it is pronounced, a sort of Present Continuous marker, although it is also used to "verbalize" words, as in this case. "-ymi" is the suffix for the 2nd. Person Singular.
In her Mapuce Course[1] Maria Catrileo recommends the use of the Interrogative Particle "am", then this question should be: ¿cumleymi am?. According to Prof. Cañumil, the Particle "am" should not be used in this kind of constructions and this is the position I will take for this blog.

- (Iñce) kvmelen, ¿eymi kay?
Note: the Personal Pronoun "iñce" is between brackets to mark its use is not mandatory. The verbal suffix "-n" marks the 1st Person Singular and makes irrelevant the use of the Personal Pronoun.
The response to the previous question is "kvme-" (of "kvmen" good) + the particle "-le-" + the verbal suffix "-n".
The question "¿eymi kay?" consists of the Personal Pronoun for the 2nd. Pers. Singular.
The particle "kay" is used to "return" the previous question to the other speaker.

- Iñce kafey
Note: "kafey" means "too" (i.e. "me, too")

2. Other greetings:
When leaving. we can say: "Pewkajal" and to this greeting, we can add the usual address "lamien / lamgen / lamuan" or "peñi" depending on the sex of the other speaker, as explained previously in this entry.
At night or in the evening and not to "temp fate" this greeting should be reformulated and becomes "Pewkalekejal"
Notice the use of the particles "-le-" and "-ke-"

[1] Catrileo, Maria, Mapudunguyu - Curso de lengua mapuche, Univ. de Chile, Facultad de Filisofía y humanidades, 1988

Nov 3, 2008

Seventh - Pronouns

4. Interrogative pronouns:
These are words are used to ask about a certain item or information missing in a sentence. They mark some piece of information that is missing and one would like to know more about.

4.1. Cem = What?
It is used to ask about the identity of a thing or things.
...¿Cem am ta tvfa? = what is this?
...Kawej ta tvfa = This is a horse
Note: in another entry I will explain the use of the particle "am". The particle "am" is not translated and works in the sentence as a question marker.

4.2. Iñey = Who? (in some regions it is pronounced: "iñi")
It is used to ask about the identity of a person or people.
...¿Iney pigeymi? = What's your name? (literally: "Who are called you" (notice the used of "who" instead of "how")
...Iñce Kajfv pigen = My name is Kallfü (literally: "I am called Kallfü")
Note: the verb "pigen" is equivalent to the English construction "to be called".
The verb root is "pige-" and the suffix corresponds to the 2nd. Pers. Singular "-ymi". The verb "pigen" is composed by the verbal root "pi-" (to say) and the reflexive particle "-ge-" (in another entry we will furhter describe the use of this particle)

4.3. Cew = Where
It is used to ask about a place
...¿Cew mvley tami ruka? = Where is your house?
...Fvskv Menuko mew mvley = (it) is in Fiske Menuko
Note: the verb "mvley" means "to be" but only in the stative sense. This is one of the few verbs that have its meaning in present (action verbs usually mean the action already happened).
"Tami" is a possessive adjective and it is used to mark possession of nouns ("tañi" = my, "tami" = your, etc.) In the response, the appear "mew" that is used in different sentences and here means "in".
"Fvskv Menuko" is the Mapuche designation of the city of Gral. Roca in Puelmapu.

4.5. Cum = How?
This interrogative pronoun has many derivatives(*)
It is used to ask about the manner or state and generally, it is used in combination with other particles
...¿Cumleymi? = ¿How are you? (note the use of the particle -le-)
...Kvmelen = I'm well
Note: The particle "-le-" usually marks that the action or event is happening now. Also, sometimes it is used to verbalize adjectives. In this case it is added the verbal suffix "-ymi".
The response consists of "kvmen" (good, well) + the particle "-le-" (used as a verbalizer)+ the verbal suffix "-n".

(*) The derivatives from the interrogative pronoun "cum" are:
4.5.1. ¿Cumten? ¿tunten? = How many?
It is used to ask about quantities
...¿Cumten kawaj nieymi? = How many horses do you have?
...Kecu nien = I have five

4.5.2. Cumvl = When?
It is used to ask about the time something happens
...¿Cumvl akualu? = When will he arrive?
...Wvle = tomorrow
Note: In this question, it is used the verbal root "aku-" + the future marker "-a-". The particle "-lu" will be explained in another entry. "Akun" = Arrive, "akulu" = when arrived (but also the one who arrived)

4.5.3. ¿Cumueci? ¿cumgeci? = in what manner?
It is used to ask to talk about the manner or way of something
...¿Cumgeci zewmagekey xuxuka?
...In what way the Trutruca is made?
Note: "zewmvn" = work + particle "-a-" + particle "-ge-" + particle "-ke-" (this particle marks that the action is made with habitude) + the verbal suffix "-y". The "xuxuka" or "trutruca" in Spanish is a typical musical instrument of the Mapuche People.

4.5.4. ¿Cumuelu? ¿cumgelu? = Why?
It is used to ask for the reason or motive something happend or was done.
...¿Cumgelu feypilu “kvmerkelay ñi ilo”?
...¿Why do you say that “my meat was not good”?
Note: "feypi-" is a composed verb: "fey" (this/that) + "pi-" (from the verb "pin" = to say). In quotation marks appear particles and constructions already explained. The particle "-la-" marks the negation (in other entries we will also introduce the other particles to mark negation) and the particle "-rke-" that denote surprise or as a remark in stories or tales (commonly used in narration). "Ilo" means "meat"

4.5.5. ¿Cumal? = What for?
It is used to ask about the reason or motive of a future event
...¿Cumal vxvftuafimi bafkeh mew?
...¿What for do you throw it back to the sea/lake?
Note: "vxvf-tu-a-fimi" is formed by the verb "vxvfvn" (deriving the verbal root "vxvf-" + the particle "-tu-" (that is used in different ways: here it means that the action was done voluntary) + "-a-" (future) + "-fi-" (marks the direct object or that generally the action is done on the noun immediately after the verb construction) + the verbal suffix "-(y)mi" (the first "-y-" is suppressed for the particle "-fi-" end in "-i")

4.6. ¿Tuci? ¿Cuci? = Which?
It is used to ask about a thing or person when there are other options
...¿Tuci ñawe ayvymi? = ¿Which of my daughters (do) you like?

5. Indefinite pronoun:
These are those that mark quantaties, identity or other notions indefinitely
They substitute a person or thing indefinitely or whose determination is not intended by the speaker.
The main Indefinite pronouns are: [1]
Kom = all
Tucirume = anyone (used for things)
Cemnorume = anything
Iñeynorume = anyone (used for people)
Kagelu = another
Fenxen = much
Fenxentu = much (time)

6. Distributive pronouns
These are formed by adding the particle "-ke" to the numbers.
Kiñeke = each one.
Epuke kvyeh = every 2 months
Melike xipantv = every 4 years
Note: "kvyeh" also means "moon"

[1] Gramática del idioma Mapuche del profesor Raguileo Lincopil, Agrupación Mapuche “Wixaleyiñ”, Marta Berretta, Dario Cañumil, Tulio Cañumil.

Oct 29, 2008

Sixth - Pronouns

Pronouns are words (a pro-form) that substitute a noun (or a noun phrase) that generally were already included during the communication process.
They usually refer to a person or things and mark its position in the sentence (personal pronouns, possessive pronouns, etc) and also, certain type of pronouns are used to question about the noun (i.e. interrogative pronouns)
The are called "pro-nouns" because they substitute or are equivalent in meaning to a noun.

1. Personal pronouns:
They are words used to substitute any of the 3 grammatical persons without using a noun. They mark the relation between the speaker, the addressee and a third party in a conversation, story, etc.
In Mapuzugun there is 3 grammatical persons (first, second & third) and each of these also have 3 grammatical numbers (singular, dual & plural)

Pronouns in Mapuzugun do not present grammatical gender (there is no difference among the personal pronouns with respect to the gender of the substituted noun).

Based on the material seen up to now, Mapuzugun would not have noun cases.

1.a. Singular:
...iñce: I
...eymi: you (actually: thou)
...fey: he/she/it (it marks a 3rd person or thing in a conversation)

1.b. Dual:
It marks 2 persons or nouns
....iñciw: we two (including the speaker)
...eymu: you two
...feyegu: they two

1.c. Plural:
It marks more than 2 persons or nouns
....iñciñ: we all (including the speaker)
...eymvn: you all (including the hearer)
...feyegvn: they all

The grammatical person is also marked in the verbal desinence (suffix), therefore sometimes the personal pronoun can be omitted during conversation. E.g. the verbal desinence for "iñce" is "-n" and the sentence: iñce nien kawej can be also said nien kawej.

2. Possession marker in Mapuzugun
Personal pronouns are used together with the possessive particle (PP) "ñi" to mark possession Example:
...iñce ñi ruka = my house
...feyegvn ñi kawej = their horses (of them all)
The possessor in the response to a question is usually marked by the personal pronoun:
Question...¿iney ñi ruka tvfa? = ¿whose house is this?
Response:...iñce = I (instead of: iñce ñi ruka = my house)
To mark the possession of a thing, the possessor (and not the possessive marker) is expressed
Question:...¿feyegvn ñi kujiñ bay*? = ¿their animals (of them all) died?
Response:...may, feyegvn = yes, theirs (instead of may, feyegvn ñi kujiñ = yes, their animals)
Note: may = yes.
* The verb in 3rd. person plural should be: bayegvn (i.e. the root "ba-" of the infinitive ban = to die) plus the desinence 3rd. person "-y-" plus the plural marker "-(e)gvn" - although it can be used marking only the 3rd person if the pronoun is included in the sentence.

3. Demonstrative pronouns:
Mark the relative position with respect to the speaker and addressee in the communication process.
The words are:
"fa" marks a place that is close to the place the conversation takes place
"fey" marks a place that is not the place where the conversation takes place or that is close to
"ye" marks a place that is away from the place the conversation take palce.

These particles can work alone but usually are added the particle "tv":
These words, called position markers, are used individually or in combination with other words or particles.

mark a place[1]
...tvfa mew = in this place; here (literally: in here)
...tvfey mew = in that place; there (literally: in there)
...tvye mew = over there

. to mark a place or thing[1]
...tvfa (ta) kawej = this is* (a) horse; this horse (that is here close to us)
...tvfa (ta) ñi peñi = this is* my brother; my brother (he is here)
Note: the particle "ta" marks a relation between 2 words (in Mapuzugun we do not use the verb "to be" in these kind of sentences)
¿tuci? - ¿which?
tvfey - that, those; the one/s there.

iii. To mark or specify a person or thing (or a group of people or things) within another group; this is, to mark that a thing or person excluding others. The particle "ci" is then added to the previous constructions[1]
...tvfaci kawej = this horse, these horses
...tvfeyci wenxu = that man, those men
...tvyeci mawiza = that mountain, those mountains

These words can be used individually as pronouns
...tvfaci = this, these (that is close to where we are / where I am)
...tvfeyci = that, those (that is away from where we are / where I am but close to a 3rd person or object)
...tvyeci = that, those (that is away from where we are / where I am and also away from a 3rd person or object)

They can also occur without the particle "tv-"
...faci kawej = this horse, these horses
...feyci wenxu = this man, these men
...vyeci = that mountain, those mountains

Sometimes, the particle "ci" is used without specifying the position: kawej = this/these/that/those horse/s

In my next entry I will introduce other pronouns (interrogative, indefinite, etc)

[1] Mapucezugun Ñi Cumgeel - Descripción de la lengua Mapuche (Description of the Mapuche language), Cañumil, T. Versión electrónica,
[2] Gramática del idioma Mapuche del profesor Raguileo Lincopil, Agrupación Mapuche “Wixaleyiñ”, Marta Berretta, Dario Cañumil, Tulio Cañumil.

Oct 24, 2008

Fifth - The noun

Nouns name people, animals, things & places.

In Mapuzugun, generally, nouns do not have neither gender nor number. It is the context that adds to the meaning of the word.
Let's see an example with kawej:
(Iñce) nien kawej = (I) have (a) horse, (I) have horses
Note: as I already explained in my previous entry, the word "kawej" /ka'weʎ/refers to the generic word "equine", without identifying whether is a horse, a mare, one or many.
If the speaker wants to stress a certain characteristic about the horse/s needs to be explicit:
There are certain particles and markers to help be specific:
Independent plural particle: "pu"

...pu kawej = horses, the horses.
Then nien pu kawej means "(I) have horses".

Gender markers in Mapuzugun:
They are used to identify the gender in animated being:
...wenxu: marks male gender.
E.g. wenxu kawej (horse)
...zomo: markes the female gender
E.g. zomo kawej (mare)
Note: to mark male gender to birds and certain small quadrupeds, the word "alka" is used instead ("zomo" remains the female marker)
...zomo mañke (female condor)
...alka mañke (male condor)

To identify both gender and number, the markers /particles are placed after the following example:
...nien pu zomo kawej: (I) have mares
...nien kiñe zomo kawej (I have one mare)

The use of these markers and particles in not mandatory and it is the speaker who decides how precise he wants to be.

Certain nouns have the gender implied in the meaning.
...caw = father
...ñuke = mother

Mapuzugun lacks the definitive article singular (the)
...mapu means both "land / space" and "the land / the space"
...wehu means both "sky" and "the sky"
The particle “pu” could be considered an article although it is not
....pu zomo = the women
...pu wenxu = the men

The indefinite article is marked with the numeral “kiñe” = one.
...kiñe wenxu = a man
...kiñe ruka = a house (one house)
...kiñe alka ñarki = a (male) cat (that is different from: kiñe zomo ñarki = a (female) cat)

Nouns describing inanimate objects do not have gender
...kura = Stone

Nouns in Mapuzugun do not present case (i.e. they do not change the form according the the grammatical function) nor present as other Native American Languages, "possessive forms", i.e., nouns do not change according to the possessor. Certain languages always assign a possessor to certain nouns (like body parts, family members, etc)

In another entry I will introduce composed nouns.

Noun capitalization:
1. The first letter in every sentence and after a stop. Example:
Nien kiñe zomo kawej
2. Proper nouns in general.
Kuan = Juan (many names that contain letters that do not exist in Mapuzugun are adjusted too match the nearest sound)
Maria = María (notice the use of the "r" in Mapuzugun differs from the Spanish "r")
Wenosayres = Buenos Aires (also: "Wenosay")
Temuko = Temuco (City in Gulumapu)

From: Gramática del idioma Mapuche del profesor Raguileo Lincopil, Agrupación Mapuche “Wixaleyiñ”, Marta Berretta, Dario Cañumil, Tulio Cañumil.

Oct 22, 2008

Fourth - Words

Mapuzugun is not a tonal language (unlike many other native languages of the Americas)

Stress is irregular (i.e. words have no fixed stress patterns) and will depend on the region the language is spoken, according to Prof. Cañumil.
It is common for Mapuzugun dialects to differ in their stress placement for some words.

Loan words from other languages.

Mupuzugun incorporated words initially from other surrounding native languages and later from Spanish.
Some words of Quechua origin are:
...pataka /pa'taka/ = (one) hundred,
...waranka /wa'ranka/ = (one) thousand
Some words of Spanish origin are:
...kucijo /ku'tʃiʎo/ from cuchillo: knife,
...deskan /des'kan/ from descansar: to rest.

In Mapuzugun the majority of "primitive" words (i.e. that do not derive from other words) have 2 syllables and, to a lesser extend, 1 syllable.[2]
Words with 3 or more morphemes are generally of foreign origin.[2]

Mapuzugun is a polysynthetic language, i.e. words are usually formed by the incorporation or agglutination of many morphemes and other lexical elements affecting the meaning of the original word and adding to the extension (length) of the word. Sometimes a single word in Mapuzugun can be translated into a whole sentence in other languages.[3]
This main characteristics of Mapuzugun will be introduced in my next entries.

Syllable formation according to the Raguileo Alphabet: [2]
In Mapuzugun, a syllable can be formed by:
i. an isolated vowel: e.g. a-kun = to arrive, I arrived.
Note: in other entries I will introduce the characteristics of verbs in Mapuzugun: 1. the infinitive of the verb is identical to the 1st Pers. Singular and verbs that express actions imply the action is already concluded (past tense)
ii. a vowel preceded by a consonant or a semivowel: = house = cormorant
iii. a vowel, followed by a non-obstuctive consonant: = sun, day
iv. a vowel followed by a semivowel:ñ-ko = echo
v. by a vowel preceded by a any consonant and followed by a non-obstructive consonant or a semivowel as well:
......ñar-ki = cat
......ciw-kv = chimango

Particles are inserted into verbs (between the root and desinence or suffix) to modify the meaning (in tense, different markers, negation, etc) allowing for the formation of words of up to 12 syllables[2]
Example: verb “kimvn” (to know), we can form the word:
"Probably they (all) will come to let them know"
From Spanish: Posiblemente vengan a darles aviso a ellos. [2]
kim- is the root of the verb "kimvn"
-gvn is the desinence for the 3rd person plural
Inserted in between are among others, the particles:
"-la-" negation marker,
"-(y)a-" future (the particle to mark the future tense is the vowel "a". The semivowel "y" is placed to soften the transition between the negation and the future markers.
"-y-" this is part of the verbal desinence (in this case "-ygvn"). Certain authors consider the "-y-" of the desinence to be a marker of the "realis (or indicative) mood"[4]
"-pa-" marks the direction of the action (in this direction)
"-pe-" marks the immediate past tense (that the action was done recently)
"-tu-" this particle modifies verbal roots in different ways (being also a verbalizer of nouns) In this case, it marks the action had been done previously and is done again this time.
"-ge-" marks that the action marked by the verb is applied to the person indicated in the desinence (in this case "-ygvn")

Particles will be explained in detail in next entries.

Not all sentences will present this structure: there are also other simple sentences that resemble the kind of sentences we are used to:
E.g.. Malal mew mvley re wenxu kujiñ
......malal = corral (an enclosure of livestock)
.....mew = prep. en este caso: "in"
.....mvlen = to be
.....-y = 3ra Pers. Singular = adv. "only"
.....wenxu = adj. "macho"
.....kujiñ = animal (also, animals)
"En el corral hay solamente animales machos"
In the corral there is only male animals

From this sentence we can also conclude that:
....."mew" is actually a postposition,
.....that Mapuzugun lacks articles "the",
.....that adjectives are placed before nouns
.....there is no gender in Mapuzugun (gender is marked through adjectives or modifiers)
Example. "kawej" = horse (this refers to the generic word "equine", without identifying whether is a horse, a mare, one or many).
To mark the gender and number, we use the markers "wenxu" (male) o "zomo" (female) and the numbers "kiñe" (one), "epu" (two), ..., "mari" (ten) etc. "zomo kawej" is then "(the) mare" and "epu wenxu kawej" means "two horses"

We will see this and other characteristics of Mapuzugun in my next entries.

[2] Cañumil, Tulio et al, op. cit.
[4] Fernández Garay, ...

Oct 21, 2008

Third - Writing Mapuche

In my previous entry I introduced and described the Raguileo Alphabet properly, I mean, as it should be from a linguist point of view. I think though that I should also give some further pronunciation samples (the not-so-correct but necessary K like in 'key')

Pronunciation samples for the Raguileo Alphabet.

Note: I will mark the stress only in the IPA symbols, as Mapuzugun has no written accent (like á, é, etc in Spanish).[1] I will not use the IPA stress symbol in the word written in Mapuzugun in order to prevent misinterpretations of the existence of schwa or glottal stop.

A: Always like "a" in "stack"(e.g. "amun" /a'mun/ = go)

Note: the "b" sound like "b" in "bank" does not occur in Mapuzugun

C: this Grapheme represents the "ch" sound as "ch" in "such" (e.g. "ce" /tʃe/= people)

Note: the "d" sound, like "d" in "day" does no occur in Mapuzugun.

Z: Always like "th" in "think" /'θiŋk/. E.g "zomo" /θo'mo/ = woman.

E: Always like "e" in "bed" (ej. "amulen" = to be going)

F: Always like "f" in "fall" (ej. "fvca" /fɯ'tʃa/= old)

Note: the "g" sound like in "get" does no occur in Mapuzugun

Q: This sound does not occur in English. It is similar to "g" in "get" but without producing the stop, which means it is produced without obstructing airflow in the vocal tract. It corresponds to the Grapheme "v" in Mapuzugun, when used as a semivowel[1]. E.g. "liq" /liɣ/ = white (color)

I: Always lie "i" in "free" /friː/ (e.g. "iney" /i'nei/ = who)
Note: "who" presents regional variations: "iñi" /i'ɲi/

Note: The "j" sound (like "ch" in Scottish "loch" /lɔx/) does not occur in Mapuzugun

K: Always like "k" in "key" (e.g. "kiñe" /ki'ɲe/= uno)

L: Always like "l" in "let" (ej. "logko" /'loŋko/ )

B: Not to confuse with "b" sound. This sound does not occur in English. It represents an interdental “l” that is pronounced like the regular L but beginning with the tongue between the teeth /ļ/. E.g. in Mapuzugun: "bafken" /ļaf'keņ/ = lake, sea.

J: It is pronounced like the "ll" in Spanish: /ʎ/ or like "lli" in "million". E.g. "kawej" /ka'weʎ/ = horse

M: Always like "m" in "him" ("mari" /ma'ɹi/ = ten)

N: Always like "n" in "nice" (e.g. "antv" /an'tɯ/ = sun, day)

H: This does not occur in English. It is pronouced like a regular N but beginning with the tongue between the teeth. E.g. in Mapuzugun "hamuh" /ņa'muņ/ = foot

Ñ: Always like "ni" in "onion" (E.g. "ñuke" /'ɲuke/ = mother)

G: Always like "ng" in "sing". E.g. in Mapuzugun: "guru" /ŋɯ'ɹɯ/ = fox.

O: Always like "augh" in "caught" /'kot/ (E.g. "zomo" /θo'mo/ = woman)

P: Always like "p" en "port" (ej. "peweh" /pe'weņ/ = edible seeds of the Pehuén)
Note: P in Mapuzugun is not aspirated

R: Always lije "r" in English: like "r" in "red" (ej. "ñarki" /'ɲaɹki/ = cat)
Note: In some regions this sound is replaced by the allophone /ɻ/ (voiced retroflex approximant consonant) that is the retroflex R in some American English dialects [1] E.g. red /ɻʷɛd/

S: This grapheme represents two sounds and the pronunciation varies due to regional variations and/or to denote affection.
1. It is pronounced like "sh" in "sheep"
2. Like "s" in "sand".
The word for "elderly woman" is "kuse". Its pronunciation will be related to the affection shown to the person.
Neutral: "kuse" /'kuse/ = "elderly person"
Affective: "kuse" /'kuʃe/ = "elderly person" (affective)
Despiteful: the "s" sound is replaced by "z" /θ/: "kuze" /kuθe/ = "elderly woman" (despiteful)
According to Prof. Cañumil, in the Province of Chubut the "s" is pronounced always like "sh" in "sheep".

T: Always like "t" after "s" in English, like "t" in "sty" (e.g. "¡tutelu!" = great!)

X: It is similar to "tr" in "train". E.g. in Mapuzugun: "xapial" /tɹa'pial/ = puma (puma concolor)
Note: other words to name a "puma". E.g. "pagi" /'paŋi/ - "pagkej" /paŋ'keʎ/

U: always like "oo" in "boot" (ej. "akun" /a'kun" = come)

V: this represents the so-called "6th vowel" and does not occur in English. It sounds like the "ao" in Scottish Gaelic's word for "strait" caol /kɯːl/ when the syllable is stressed. When unstressed,
it sounds like "a" in English "about"/ə'baut/.
Mapuzugun examples: "antv" /an'tɯ/ = sun, day

W: Always line "w" in "water". E.g. in Mapuzugun: "wigka" /'wiŋka/ = this word identifies all that is not Mapuche.

Y: always like "y" in "you" /juː/.

Vovels in Mapuzugun are 6: A E I O U V
Vowels are classified in open (or high): e, a, o and closed: i, u.
The 6th vowel should be placed between "i" and "u". Semivowels are 3: Y Q W, that correspond to the closed vowels: i, v, u. If placed before another vocal, they act as semiconsonants.
Consonants are Las are 17: C Z F K L B J M N H G Ñ P R S T X that could be classified in two groups: obstructives and non obstructives.
Obstructives are: C K P T X
Non obstructives are: Z F L B J M N H G Ñ R S

Pronunciation of the Raguileo Alphabet:
a /a/, cv /tʃɯ/, zv /θɯ/, e /e/, fv /fɯ/, qv /ɣɯ/, i /i/, kv /kɯ/, lv /lɯ/, bv /ļɯ/, jv /ʎɯ/, mv /mɯ/, nv /nɯ/, hv /ņɯ/, ñv /ɲɯ/, gv /ŋɯ/, o /o/, pv /pɯ/, rv /ɹɯ/, sv /sɯ/ o /ʃɯ/, tv /tɯ/, xv /tɹɯ/, u /u/, v /ɯ/, wv /wɯ/, yv /jɯ/.

[1] Stress: "intensity of utterance given to a speech sound, syllable, or word producing relative loudness" (Source:

This entry summarizes the information contained in the books previously quoted and [1] "Gramática del idioma Mapuche del profesor Raguileo Lincopil", Agrupación Mapuche “Wixaleyiñ” by: Marta Berretta- Dario Cañumil- Tulio Cañumil. Electronic Version.

Oct 18, 2008

Second - Writing system

The Mapuche Nation has been long split into two countries that actually implement very different policies towards its native peoples[5].
Mapuzugun is a minority language submersed in a vast Spanish-speaking area. In recent years, Mapuche words have been used to name restaurants, supermarkets, shops in general, neglecting the language structures and meanings. This extensive use also disregards the Mapuche's own vision on their language and culture.
Of the 3 writing known systems I will introduce the ones mostly used on each side of the Andes: the Unified Mapuche Alphabet and the Raguileo Graphemic Writing System. Both systems have had different success in gaining the mapuche's support for representing their own spoken language.

The Unified Alphabet (or "Alfabeto Unificado" in Spanish) is mostly accepted in academic circles and certain communities in Gulumapu. It is the result of the "Meeting for the Unification of the Mapuche Alphabet" that took place in Temuco, Chile, in 1986 and was organized by the "Sociedad Chilena de Lingüística" (Chilean Society of Linguistics).

The other is the "Grafemario Raguileo" (Raguileo Graphemic Writing System) or Raguileo Alphabet (Grapheme: a grapheme is the fundamental unit in written languages) that seems to be the most accepted system among the communities and other organizations that seek cultural and political autonomy within both countries at each side of the Andes (and specially in Puelmapu)
The main characteristics of the Raguileo Alphabet is that it assigns only one Phoneme to each Grapheme which facilitates the reading of this polysynthetic language.

I will not include the Azümchefe Alphabet because it is widely rejected by the Mapuche people (mainly sponsored by the Chilean government) and I lack the necessary references and knowledge to compare them.

The list below presents the two writing systems in 3 columns:
AU: Unified Alphabet
GR: Raguileo Alphabet
The 3rd column described the Phoneme listed in the other 2 columns adding its corresponding IPA symbol.

AU....GR...Phoneme that it represents
A........A.......low central unrounded vowel /a/ (some references[3] assign a front position)
CH.....C........voiceless palato-alveolar affricate consonant /tʃ/
E........E........mid front unrounded vowel /e/
F........F........voiceless labiodental fricative consonant /f/
G.......Q........allophone for the phoneme /ɯ/ corresponding to the voiced velar fricative consonant /ɣ/ or velar approximant consonant /ɰ/
I.........I........close front unrounded vowel /i/
K........K.......voiceless velar plosive consonant /k/
L........L........voiced alveolar lateral consonant /l/
L........B........voiced interdental lateral consonant /ļ/
LL......J........voiced palatal lateral consonant /ʎ/
M......M........voiced bilabial nasal consonant /m/
N.......N........voiced alveolar nasal consonant /n/
N.......H........voiced interdental nasal consonant /ņ/
Ñ........Ñ.......voiced palatal nasal consonant /ɲ/
NG.....G........voiced velar nasal consonant /ŋ/
O........O........close-mid back rounded vowel /o/
P.........P........voiceless bilabial plosive consonant /p/
R........R........voiced fricative retroflex consonant /ɹ/
S........S........voiceless fricative palatal consonant /ʃ/
This grapheme also represents the voiceless alveolar fricative /s/. Tulio Cañumil supports the idea that this sound was not in Mapuzugun and might have been introduced from the Runa Simi (Southern Quechua language) or from Spanish. In Puelmapu some regions lack this sound at all (Mapuzugun as spoken in the Chubut Province) according to Prof. Cañumil.
T........T........voiceless alveolar plosive consonant /t/
This grapheme also presents the allophone pronounced as an interdental /t/
TR.....X........voiceless fricative alveolar retroflex consonant /tɹ/
U........U........high back rounded vowel /u/
Ü........V........high back unrounded vowel /ɯ/* when stressed. When unstressed, it is a mid central unrounded vowel /ə/.
* Some bibliography describes this as high central unrounded vowel /ɨ/, e.g. as "e" in roses /'ɹoʊzɨz/[4]
W.......W........allophone for /u/ corresponding to the voiced fricative rounded velar /w/
Y........Y.........allophone for /i/ corresponding to voiced fricative alveo-palatal /j/
D........Z.........voiceless fricative interdental consonant /θ/
In some regions "Z" is replaced by its allophone /ð/ (voiced dental fricative consonant)[2]

This comparative table was taken from reference [1] but corrected accoding to reference [2] at the footnote. Mostly, only API symbols were corrected. I also introduced the notes on regional variations.
The advantages for the Raguileo Alphabet go beyond its acceptance by the Mapuche people. (Anselmo Raguileo (1922-1992) was himself a mapuche poet and linguist):
Some communities take his work as a genuine response to their aspiration for political autonomy and the need to emphasize the independence of the language.
I believe that the Raguileo Alphabet adapts to Mapuzugun better: uses only one grapheme for each phoneme (no digraphs) avoiding misinterpretations in this polysynthetic language, although it uses some letters in a non-standard way from a Spanish perspective.
The major objection against this writing system is that it is more difficult to acquire by Spanish speakers, which to my understanding, stresses Mapuzugun as an independent language: one should decide for a writing system that better adapts to the language needs regardless it is more or less alike Spanish.
I will use the Raguileo Graphemic Writing System for future entries.

I translated this entry and will translate future entries from Spanish and Mapuzugun. Please email me your comments and suggestions!

[1] Uso de la lengua mapuche por la sociedad no mapuche en Patagonia, publicado en Libro de Actas - Encuentro de Lenguas Indígenas Americanas. Santa Rosa: Universidad Nacional de La Pampa, Subsecretaría de Cultura del Gobierno de La Pampa & Agencia de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica.
[2] Descripción de la lengua Mapuche - Mapucezugun Ñi Cumgeel, Tulio F. Cañumil, Agrupación Mapuche Wixaleyiñ, Florencio Varela, Buenos Aires, Puelmapu.
[5] I used the construction: "native people" although the preferred designation for the native peoples in Argentina is: "pueblos originarios", i.e. "originary" peoples. The term "originary" means that these peoples were here before the arrival of Europeans.


The language spoken by the Mapuche people both in Argentina and Chile is called Mapuzugun: /mapuθu'ŋun/ or Mapudungun /mapuθu'ŋun/) (from "mapu" = land and "zugun" /θu'ɲun/ = speech") and it is still basically a spoken language despite several efforts to achieve a unified writing system.
There is no academy or literary society acting as a regulatory body for the language. Mapuzugun will heavily relay on oral tradition to transmit history, literature, law and other knowledge across generations until a writing system is agreed upon. Certain institutions that have tried to normalize the language have received huge criticism on both sides of the Andes: Puelmapu (from "puel" /puel/ = East) and Gulumapu ("Gulu" /'ɲulu/= west).
There are three known writing systems and each community (or lof) usually adopts one based on the community's decision.
I will keep aside all political and ideological views, but need to decide on which system I will use for this blog: I will use the Ranguileo Graphemic Writing System (or Grafemario Ranguileo in Spanish) that is widely accepted by most communities in Puelmapu.
Although there are many references about stress patterns in Mapuzugun, regional variations of the language usually include stress variations and the correct stressed syllable will depend on the region one has acquired a specific vocabulary.
I found very interesting the fact that stress actually does not affect the understanding among people fluent with the language (and this has been my experience, too!)
Local variations or dialects are normally accepted as the spoken language of each region and none is considered to have a better or higher status than the other. I have experienced that the usual question when people speak Mapuzugun is that they routinely ask each other "how do you say this in your region?". Regional variations do not seem to prevent people from understanding each other.
For example, the interrogative pronoun "iney" (who?) can be "iñi" /i'ŋi/ depending on the region. Usually both versions are taught.
Also, there is a tendency to replace Mapuzugun so-called 6th vowel by the vowel "i". The 6th vowel is spelled v, ï or ü depending on the writing system.
The sound of the 6th vowel depends on whether it is stressed or not:
When stressed, it is a high back unrounded vowel [1] represented by /ɯ/ using the International Phonetic Alphabet (e.g. Scottish Gaelic's word for "strait" caol /kɯːl/), although other bibliography describes this as high central unrounded vowel and represented by the API symbol /ɨ/, e.g. as "e" in roses /'ɹoʊzɨz/
When unstressed, it is a mid central unrounded vowel , represented by the API symbol /ə/.

Other regional variations include variations in the consonants (e.g. the word for cat is both "narki" /'narki/ or "ñarki" /'ŋarki/)

In my next entry I will describe the Ranguileo Graphemic Writing System and compare it to the "Unified Mapuche Alphabet" mostly used in Gulumapu.
[1] Cañumil, Tulio et al, Descripción de la lengua Mapuche - Mapucezugun Ñi Cumgeel, Agrupación Mapuche Wixaleyiñ, Florencio Varela, Buenos Aires, Puelmapu.

Note: unless otherwise stated, I will use the bibliography available from my language school and other papers provided by Tulio Cañumil. Also, I will use my notes taken during the lessons.