AYMARA, 2,000,000 SPEAKERS in Bolivia, and Peru
from the DICTIONARY OF LANGUAGES, The Definitive Reference to more than 400 Languages, by
Andrew Dalby,A & C Black , London
"One of the AMERIND LANGUAGES, Aymara is spoken on the high Andes plateaus near Lake Titicaca. Aymara shows many similarities with neighbouring Quechua. An argument continues as to whether the languages have the same origin, or have grown together in the course of shared cultural development. Hermann Steinthal, at the 8th International Congress of Americanists in Berlin in 1888, asserted the former. J. Alden Mason, in the Handbook of South American Indians, argued that in their basis the languages had `little in common' but that they shared a large number of words,`perhaps as much as a quarter of the whole, obviously related and probably borrowed'. Some modern researchers favour Steinthal, positing a `Quechumaran' grouping to include both Quechua and Aymara; the majority, probably, agree with Mason. At any rate, there certainly has been cultural influence between the two.A hundred years before the Spanish conquest, Aymara territory had become part of the Inca empire. The west Peruvian dialects of Quechua show strong Aymara influence, as if Aymara had once been spoken there. The Aymara language has a traditional form of picture writing, used until quite recently to produce versions of Christian religious texts. This seems to represent an early stage in the typical development of writing - an aid to the memory, used for fixed texts such as catechisms and the Lord's Prayer, in which the texts are at least half-remembered. In this picture writing the characters are not standardised or used in the same way in different places. There are often fewer signs than words: just enough to recollect to the user's mind what he needs to say. The majority of signs are pictures of people and things.Some others are symbolic, and the meaning of signs can bestretched by means of puns and homophones. Aymara in this traditional script was at first written on animal skins painted with plant or mineral pigments: later, paper was used. In modern Bolivia, where the largest community of speakers is to be found, Aymara is now written in the Latin alphabet. The orthography, introduced in 1983, follows Spanish practice. Books and magazines are regularly published, notably by the Evangelical and Catholic churches. Many Bolivians are trilingual in Aymara, Quechua and Spanish. Thus, besides its Quechua elements, Aymara has now many Spanish loan-words, though they are much altered to fit the sound pattern: winus tiyas for Spanish buenos dias, wisiklita for bicicleta. The first ten numerals in Aymara are:
maya, paya, kimsa, pusi, phisqa, suxta, paqallqu, kimsaqallqu, llatunka, tunka."