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Urgent video documentation of Ecuadorian Highland Quichua (a Quechuan language): focus on regions of of imminent language shift

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Language Ecuadorian Highland Quichua
Depositor Simeon Floyd
Affiliation Universidad San Francisco de Quito
Location Ecuador
Deposit ID 0485
Grant ID MDP0374
Funding Body ELDP
Collection Status Collection online


Summary of the deposit

This data represents speakers of Ecuadorian Highland Quichua (or Kichwa) from several different communities from around Pichincha Province and neighboring areas of Imbabura and Cotopaxi Provinces of Andean Ecuador. The recorded materials include informal speech, ethnographic interviews, narrative, and cultural demonstrations, creating a multi-purpose corpus to be used for broad linguistic and cultural documentation, for specific analytical projects (like the study of the high degree of dialectal diversity), and for community purposes and materials. Most speakers in this area are of advanced age (60s-80s), and after first visiting with local families and authorities to explain the project, principal researcher Simeon Floyd arranges appointments for filming sessions in which locals talk among themselves or are interviewed by Floyd or other members of the research team. A team of 10 native speaker researchers from Imbabura Province then transcribe the materials and translate them into Spanish, and transcripts are included with the media materials as they are completed.


Group represented

This collection is being created with speakers of several related dialects of Highland Ecuadorian Quichua. Focus is on Pichincha Province including bordering areas of Imbabura and Cotopaxi. Generally thought of as “northern” and “central” dialect areas, Pichincha actually represents the transition from the northern Imbabura to the central Cotpaxi, and has features of both areas. Since the capital city of Quito is in Pichincha Province, the communities are being encroached on by urbanization to greater or lesser degrees. This is coupled with an extreme degree of language shift.


Language information

Ecuadorian Highland Quichua, commonly written as “Kichwa”, is a Quechuan language spoken throughout the Ecuadorian Andes from the province of Imbabura in the north to the province of Loja in the south. Related to the Quechuan languages of Peru and other Andean countries, the spread of the Quechuan language family to the area that would become modern Ecuador is associated with the expansion of the Inca Empire. Like the other Quechuan languages and western South American languages more generally, Ecuadorian Highland Kichwa is an agglutinative, SOV language with rich morphology, a medium-sized phoneme inventory. After the Spanish conquest the local Quechuan variety continued to develop into distinct regional language with unique features, no longer intelligible with Inca or Cuzco Quechua, and featuring distinct local dialects throughout the Ecuadorian Andes, spoken by a many different regional ethnic groups. Despite the historically large number of speakers (current estimates are imprecise but are in the hundreds of thousands), speakers of Ecuadorian Highland Quichua are relatively nearby to cities with predominantly Spanish speaking populations, and the language is under intensive pressure from language shift to Spanish. Currently in most regions the majority of young people are only passive users of the language, meaning that in most cases it will not be transmitted to the next generation. In relation to this sociolinguistic dynamic, varieties of Ecuadorian Spanish are also used in the local village and household contexts.


Deposit contents

Deposit contents: 23 sessions of video materials totaling 14 hours, each including un-concatenated native .mts files at 60fps 1080p, concatenated .mp4 files at 30fps 1080p, and corresponding .wav files. Approximately half of this data is transcribed and transcriptions will be deposited as they are finished.


Deposit history

Data collection was delayed until January of 2018 when it was possible to purchase the camera. Video collection has continued consistently since then and will increase until mid-2019, with several upcoming intensive filming sessions, and ongoing development of relationships with Quichua speakers in newly contacted communities in order to pursue future data collection. Files are concatenated into smaller working files (still very high quality) with sound files, and original native files are preserved. The files are also backed up on the MPI server but not available in the archive. Transcriptions and translations are being produced currently.


Acknowledgement and citation

Usage of materials should include acknowledgment of researcher Simeon Floyd as well as the specific communities/speakers represented, as listed in the metadata, as well as ELDP.

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

Floyd, Simeon. 2018. Urgent video documentation of Ecuadorian Highland Quichua (a Quechuan language): focus on regions of of imminent language shift. A multi-community documentary collection: Pichincha, Imbabura and Cotopaxi Provinces, Ecuador. London: SOAS University of London, Endangered Languages Archive. Handle: Accessed on [insert date here].

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