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Languages of Peru

(Last Updated On: March 10, 2022)

Peru

Peru, a South American country, is well-known for its unique natural environment. The landscape includes stunning mountains, dunes, and the rich, biodiversity-preserving Amazon rainforest. Peru is known for its ancient Incan citadel, Machu Picchu. The country also boasts a rich linguistic heritage—tourists from all over the world flock to Peru.

Many languages are spoken in Peru, including many remote communities living in the Amazon rainforest. Some of these languages are not well documented and are therefore unclassified today due to insufficient interaction between the speakers and the rest of the world.

Lake Titicaca, a large, deep, and freshwater lake in the Andes bordering Peru and Bolivia, is often called the “highest navigable lakes” globally.

Below I will take you on tour through Peru’s languages. We’ll start with the most common and then move on to those we don’t know much about. Let’s get right in.

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What language do they speak in Peru?

Let’s start with the obvious question. Is Peru Spanish speaking? Yes. A large majority of the Peruvian population (87%) speak Spanish as their first Common language & National Language. Widely spread language among Peruvian population & Some speak foreign Languages.

In 1532, Spanish colonists/invaders brought the Spanish language to Peru. The colonists expanded their control over the country, and their language spread with a mix of natural growth, oppression, and suppression of local languages. Spanish is now the dominant linguistic language in Peru.

Around 29 million people in Peru speak Spanish as a mother tongue & native tongue, and another 2 million use it as a second or third language.

The situation with languages is not as simple as it seems.

peru official languages

Peru’s Official Language

Does Peru speak Spanish? Yes. But not only one. In Peru, there are five different versions of Spanish. These dialects change depending on where you are in Peru. Speaker numbers fall into four broad bands that run across the northwest to southeast (except Equatorial Spanish, primarily found in the northwest).

Click the link to learn more about Spanish spoken around the world. Continue reading to learn more about Peru’s Spanish dialects.

Continue reading: Spanish Speaking Countries.

Andean Spanish

Andean Spanish, as the name suggests, is spoken mainly in Peru. It is similar to the Spanish languages most frequently spoken in Bolivia and Ecuador. It can be identified by its distinctive rhythm, sounding of vowels, and force with which consonants are pronounced.

Peruvian Coastal Spanish

The name of Peruvian Coastal Spanish is the key to identity. It can be found along the entire length of Peru’s Many linguists consider this. This is delivered the most ‘pure’ in Latin Aguists and is the standard version of Peru’s language.

Andean-Coastal Spanish

Andean-Coastal Spanish, a dialect that originated in the last 50 years, is surprisingly young. This language blends Andean Regions Spanish and the Lima language. There are also a few Quechua influences, such as slang and new words.

Amazon the Amazon languages influence these Peruvian Spanish dialect usages. It also contains a mixture of Andean Spanish, Lima Spanish, and Andean Spanish.

Equatorial Spanish

Although Equatorial Spanish is mainly spoken in Ecuador, there are still speakers in the Tumbes area at the northwestern tip of Peru.

What are the Official Languages of Peru?

Spanish is the official language of Peru, but it is not the country’s first language. Also, there are Aboriginal Languages Quechua, Aymara, and Aymara, Peru’s official languages. The Constitution of Peru & the Peruvian Government protects as principal language both of these languages.

Indigenous Languages Spoken in Peru

Although Peru was once home to hundreds upon hundreds of native languages, the country’s native languages are now a victim of centuries of discrimination and suppression.

Generally speaking, Peru’s native languages can be classified as native to the Andes of the Amazon Basin. Let’s take a look at each one individually.

Languages native to the Andes

The Andes, which run through seven South American countries, is the world’s most extended mountain range. It also hosts a multitude of languages. The most spoken language in Peru is.

Quechua

Quechua is spoken by approximately 10% of Peru’s inhabitants, which equates to about 3.5 million people. It is also known as Runasimi by its speakers. This means “people’s tongue.”

Quechua was used across vast swathes in the Andes before the Incan Empire, who spoke a form Quechua, began to build their empire. There are many Quechuan languages spoken in Peru Territory and the surrounding countries. In total, there are around 8-10 million Quechuan speakers. This article will cover some Quechuan languages and dialects. You can also click the link below to learn more about the differences between dialects.

After the Spanish conquest in 16th century Peru, Quechua was still widely used by indigenous people or indigenous communities as their “common language.” Spain recognized it, and many Spaniards learned to communicate with the local indigenous population. Know more about the Incas of Peru.

Quechuan languages are the most popular pre-Colombian language group in South America. Spanish colonists initially adopted Quechua to communicate with locals and convert them to Catholicism. The language was eventually banned from public use after the rebellion of Peru’s indigenous people under Tupac Amaru II in the latter 18th century. Additionally, colonial officials dropped its use for administrative and religious purposes.

Fast forward to 1975 in the 20th Century, Peru was the first country in South America that granted Quechua official status of the language. Quechua is still a spoken language. It has borrowed hundreds of words from Spanish over the years, just as Peruvian Culture Spanish has been influenced in some ways by Quechuan phrases and words. Although Quechua has been used in education in Peru in specific ways, it is still difficult to find written material in the language.

Read more: What is the Difference between a Language & a Dialect?

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Aymara

Aymara is the official language of Peru. It is spoken by approximately half a million people, most of them in southern Peruvian Territory cities Puno, Moquegua, and Tacna. It is said by just 1% of Peru’s people. Speaker numbers have halved in recent decades.

Aymara is a combination of Quechua and Quechua words. Hear it across the Bolivian Border and Peru.

Jaguar

Another language belonging to the Aymaran clan, Jaguar, has fewer than 700 native speakers. They are mainly found in Lima Region, where approximately 2,000 ethnic Jaqaru have migrated.

Kawai

Kawai, a different dialect of Jaqaru, is tough to understand. There has been a significant loss of mutual understanding between the speakers of both languages due to lack of contact. In 2005, Kawki only had nine speakers, so the language will likely disappear soon.

Together, Jaguar (with Kawki) are called Taupe.

Amazonian Languages

Peru is home to dozens of Amazonian languages that boast around 105,000 speakers. Speakers can be found in both the northern and eastern regions of Peru. Aguaruna and Ashaninka are two of the most spoken Amazonian languages.

Ashaninka

Ashaninka, an Arawakan language spoken by the Ashaninka people in Brazil and Peru, is called Ashaninka. It is home to around 35,000 speakers.

Ashaninka is considered an official language of Peru in the areas where it is spoken. This means the Constitution protects institutions.

Aguaruna

Aguaruna, also known as Awajun by native speakers, is spoken by the Peruvian language by approximately 53,000 people in northern Peru. Literacy rates range from 60% to 90%, while Ashaninka literacy rates are 10% to 30%.

Unlike many other Peruvian languages, Aguaruna has created materials that include a dictionary. However, it is a small one. It is used in school alongside Spanish in the areas where it is spoken, mainly the eastern foothills and Andes. This means that Aguaruna speakers also speak Spanish as a second language.

languages of peru

Peruvian Native Language Families

We know of more than 15 languages families in Peru, but it is impossible to group all of Peru’s languages into a single-family. These languages families include:

* Aru – This language family includes Aymara Jaqarru, Kawki, and Kawai.

* Aruanas – including Kulina in Peru

* Arawak – includes Resigaro and Asheninca languages, Resigaro and Asheninca and Axininca.

* Bora-Witoto: Includes Bora, Muinane and Coixama, and Murai, Nonuya. Node Witoto, Ocarina.

* Cahuapanas, including Jebero as well as the extinct Cayahuita Cahuapana Language

* Candoshi Chirino – includes Chirino and Candoshi (the latter is now extinct).

* Harakmbet, including Amarakaeri & Huachipaeri

* Hibito – Cholon and Hibito

* Jivaras – including Aguaruna, Achuar and Huambisa

* Pano-Tacanas – including Amahuaca, Cashinahua, Sharanahua, Yaminawa, Capanahua, Isconahua, Marubo, Shipibo, Cashibo, Mayo-Pisabo, Mayoruna, Nahua, Esse’ejja and the extinct Arazaire, Atsahuaca, Yamiaca, Panobo, Remo, Nocaman and Sensi languages

* Peba Yagua – includes Yagua, Yameo, and Peba (of which Yagua is the only survivor)

* Quechua – including Quechua Ancashino, Quechua Huanca, Quechua Yaru, Quechua de Pacaraos, Quechua Cajamarquino, Quechua Incawasi-Canaris, Quechua Yauyino, Quechua Chachapoyano, Quechua Lamista, Quichua Norteno, Quechua Ayacuchano and Quechua Cuzqueno

* Tallan-Sechura, including Colan, Olmos, Sechura, and Catacaos

* Tucanas – including Oregon

*Tupi – includes Omagua and Cocama-Camilla

* Zaparas – Conambo, Iquito and Arabela (extinct), Cahuarano and Andoa-Shimigae, Zaparo. These species are thought to have died or been in danger of disappearing.

A few isolated languages are also found in Peru’s Amazon rainforest. These include Taushiro and Tikuna and Quingnam and Puquina, Culli and Mochica. Many of these languages are in danger of disappearing and those within the categories mentioned above.

Imported Languages Spoken in Peru

Although Spanish is the primary language of Peru, I haven’t stopped talking about it. However, it’s not the only foreign tongue spoken in Peru. You’ll find people SPS from Arabic to Urdu and French as you travel the length and breadth of Peru. This language is particularly deep-rooted in the Iquitena region.

Portuguese is one of the most widely spoken import languages. This is due to Peru sharing a border with Brazil, where 98% speak Portuguese. Portuguese is especially popular in areas like Ucayali and Madre de Dios that lie near the Brazilian border.

As a result of global tourism trends, it is becoming more common to hear English spoken in Peru.

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