Aymara, a member of the Jaqi family of languages (Jaqaru, Kawki, Aymara),
is a language of the high Andean plain between the highest peaks of the
Andes mountains and of the shores of the world's highest navigable lake.
Aymara is the first language of approximately one-third of the population
of Bolivia, the dominant language of the southern area of Perú throughout
Puno and down towards the coast in Moquegua, Tacna, with branches into
Arequipa, and is the indigenous language of northern Chile.
Aymara is a suffixing language with complex morphophonemics. The bulk of
the grammatical resources are found within the morphology. Syntax is
morphologically marked; verbal person suffixes mark simultaneously
object/subject; data source is marked at all levels of grammar. Within the
nominal system inclusive/exclusive and humanness are marked.
The Aymara sentence is defined by the use of sentence suffixes. These
sentence suffixes are independent of root classes and may occur on all
classes. Every sentence must be marked by one or more sentence suffix,
which serves to define the sentence type. Aymara has 26 consonant phonemes
and three vowel phonemes. Fifteen of the consonants are voiceless stops
which occur in five contrasting positions of articulation; and in three
manners. Vowel dropping is significant, complex and pervasive, marking
case and phrase structure as well as style.
MJ Hardman is Professor of Anthropology and Linguistics at the University
of Florida. She began the study of Aymara in the sixties and has since been
continually involved with one or another of the Jaqi languages for which
she has written grammars, teaching materials and cultural studies. She
founded INEL (Instituto Nacional de Estudios Lingüísticos) in Bolivia and
the Aymara Language Materials Program at the University of Florida. Her
current research also involves language and gender and the patterning of
worldview in language.
2nd printing 2006.