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Kawésqar language

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Title: Kawésqar language  
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Subject: Languages of Chile, List of Chile-related topics, Araucanian languages, Classification schemes for Southeast Asian languages, Alacalufan languages
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Kawésqar language

Native to Chile
Region Channel Region, western Patagonia, Wellington Island off south Chilean coast, 49° south, with centre in Puerto Edén.
Ethnicity Alacaluf people
Native speakers
12  (2006)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 alc
Glottolog kawe1237[2]

Kawésqar (Qawasqar), also known as Alacaluf,[3] is an language isolate spoken in southern Chile by the Kawésqar people. Originally there were three regional dialects: northern, central, and southern. (Kakauhua, a.k.a. Chono, is sometimes listed as a related language, but it is completely unattested.) Only about 20 speakers of Kawesqar remain, half of them on Wellington Island, off the southwestern coast of Chile.



Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid e o
Open æ a


Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal m n   ŋ    
Plosive p t t͡ʃ k q ʔ
Ejective t͡ʃʼ    
Fricative f s       h
Rhotic   r - ɾ        
Approximant w l j      

Writing system

The alphabet in use is as follows [1]: a, æ, c, c', e, f, h, i, j, k, k', l, m, n, o, p, p', q, r, rr, s, t, t', u, w, x. However, there are reported to be differences between dialects, and some sounds that are not represented here.

Morphology and syntax

Kawésqar has a complex system of grammatical tense, which includes a basic morphological contrast between future, present, immediate past, recent past, distant past, and mythological past events.


  • Aguilera Faúndez, Óscar (2001): Gramática de la lengua kawésqar. Temuco: Corporación de Desarrollo Indígena.
  • Clairis, Christos (1987): El qawasqar. Lingüística fueguina. Teoría y descripción. Valdivia: Universidad Austral de Chile [Anejo de Estudios Filológicos 12].
  • Pieter C. Muysken. 2004. The Languages of the Andes. Cambridge Language Surveys. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


  1. ^ Kawésqar at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Kawésqar". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Spelling variants include Kaweskar, Kawaskar, Qawashqar, Kaueskar and Alakaluf, Halakwulup, Halakwalip; other names include Aksanás, Aksana and Hekaine.

External links

  • Qawasqar dictionary online (select simple or advanced browsing)
  • Kawésqar
  • SerIndigena - Territorio Kawesqar
  • Kawésqar at the World Atlas of Language Structures Online

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