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Documentación de Cha’palaa


Language Cha’palaa
Depositor Connie Dickinson
Affiliation FLACSO/University of Oregon
Location Ecuador
Collection ID 0114
Grant ID FTG0100
Funding Body ELDP
Collection Status Collection online
Landing Page Handle


Summary of the collection

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Language information

The genetic classification of Cha’palaa remains an open question. The three Barbacoan languages spoken in Ecuador – Cha’palaa, Tsafiki and Awa Pit (Coaiquer) – have been classified in the Chibchan family since 1891 (Brinton, 1891; Rivet 1924; Jijón y Caamaño 1945; Loukotka 1968; Swadesh 1959; Moore, 1952; Tovar and Tovar 1984; Greenberg 1960, 1987). While the grouping with Chibchan has been questioned (Kaufman, 1990; Constenla, 1981), the sub-grouping with Paesan of Colombia has generally been accepted, although never conclusively demonstrated. In any case, the grouping of the Barbacoan languages with Chibchan at the phylum level is not corroborated by current evidence and the sub-grouping with Paesan is questionable. Among the Barbacoan languages, which may include Guambiano, Totoro and Awa Pit, Cha’palaa and Tsafiki are the only two that are unquestionably related with a large number of obvious cognates and clearly established sound correspondences.

Tsafiki and Cha’palaa are closely related. Among the more interesting shared grammatical features of Tsafiki and Cha’palaa are an obligatory, complex mirative/evidential system, complex predicates consisting of a coverb and generic verb (similar to northern Australian language complex predicate constructions), and a semantic verb classifier system in which all predicates belong to one and only one of five classes. All three of these systems are of typological interest and examining the similarities and differences between these systems in the two languages should contribute to our knowledge of such systems. Both languages are nominative/accusative with SOV word order and a large number of subordinate and complement clause types including switch reference marking and associated motion clauses. The case-marking system in both languages allows for double case-marking. Motion predicates in both languages code motion, deixis and path as well as manner. Voice operations are derivational in both languages. In addition both languages have productive and highly elaborate ideophones. These ideophones not only represent sound and motion, but also emotions, tactile sensations, and positions and configurations in space. Major differences include a much more complex phonological system in Cha’palaa as well as a more elaborate and complex system of plural/collective marking. Tsafiki has a productive nominal classifier system whereas there are only traces of this system in Cha’palaa. Cha’palaa also appears to have more finite verbs than the 33 found in Tsafiki. Tsafiki has a few Quichua and Spanish borrowings whereas Cha’palaa has borrowed much more from both languages, most certainly due to contact in the Andes before they immigrated to the coastal area.

Linguistic information on Cha’palaa is sparse. SIL linguists have produced papers on discourse structure (Weible, 1977), phonetics and phonology (Lindskoog and Brend, 1962, 1975), a wordlist (Lindskoog 1964), and a study of sound correspondences between Cha’palaa and Tsafiki, (Moore 1962). In addition, Vittadello has published a grammatical sketch, primarily concerned with morphology, and a collection of texts (1988). In addition the Chachi themselves have created a small (500 word) bilingual dictionary for the schools (2000). There are also a limited number of ethnographic studies.


Acknowledgement and citation

To refer to any data from the collection, please cite as follows:

Dickinson, Connie. 2011. Documentación de Cha’palaa. Endangered Languages Archive. Handle: Accessed on [insert date here].

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