Cañari language

Cañar or Cañari is a poorly attested extinct language of the Marañón River basin in Ecuador which is difficult to classify, apart from being apparently related to Puruhá, though it may have been Chimuan or Barbacoan. (See Cañari–Puruhá languages.) It was the original language of the Cañari people before its replacement by Kichwa and later Spanish.

RegionEcuadoran Andes
Extinctearly Colonial era
Language codes
ISO 639-3None (mis)

Cañari substratum in Cañar QuichuaEdit

According to Urban (2018),[1] modern-day Cañar Quichua (spoken in Cañar Province, Ecuador) has a Cañari substratum, which can be seen in the phonology and lexicon of the dialect. Below is a list of Cañar Quichua words with Barbacoan lexical parallels, and hence likely to be words of Cañari origin. The words were compiled by Urban (2018) from Cordero (1895),[2] Cordero Palacios (1923),[3] and Paris (1961), and are compared in the table below to words the Barbacoan languages Totoró, Cha'palaa, and Tsafiki as well as Proto-Barbacoan reconstructions.[4]

Gloss Cañar Quichua (Cordero) Cañar Quichua (Cordero Palacios) Cañar Quichua (Paris) Proto-Barbacoan Totoró Cha'palaa Tsafiki
‘fog/smoke’ izhi ‘fog, very light drizzle’ izhin ‘drizzle’ izhi *iʃ ‘smoke'
‘rotten’ putu[l] *pɨt(ɨ) (Urban's own reconstruction)
‘kind of tree’ pachi ‘kind of tree of the eastern highlands’ *tsik ‘tree, stick'
‘kind of tree’ [chuchip]chi ‘kind of small tree’ [chuchip]chi ‘kind of plant, Abatia verbascifolia *tsik ‘tree, stick'
‘calabash tree’ [pil]chi [pil]chi ‘kind of plant, Crescentia cujete [pil]chi ‘vessel, junk made of coco, calabash’ *tsik ‘tree, stick'
‘kind of shrub’ nunchi *tsik ‘tree, stick'
‘a kind of insect that jumps’ chipu ‘a kind of insect that jumps’ chipu ‘locust’ chijpi ‘flea' chi’pın ‘flea’
‘plate’ mulu ‘rustic plate, made of clay and without adornment’ mulu milan
‘monkey’ chiru ‘orangutan [sic!]’ churi
‘lizard’ cuylan ‘small lizard’ cuilan cuilan ~ cullan ‘small lizard’ kalun[c’i] (Vasquez de Ruiz 2009)
‘knot’ sutu, zzutu su’tu ‘inserted, put between’
‘dusk’ zzuyu suyun ‘rainbow’
‘lizard’ palu palu palu [lan]palo ‘common lizard’
‘smell, stink’ pu[nya]- ‘stink excessively, emit a nauseating smell’ pu[dyu] ‘smelling badly pu[ba]- ‘smelly’
‘skin disease’ piri ‘light scabies’ piri ‘vile, despicable, mangy’ piri ‘light scabies, grain mold’ <pirr[sureg]>, <pirr[sé]> ‘lepra’ (Otero 1952: 317, 310)
‘platform built in high place’ palti palti ‘height, lookout (?)’ *tɨ ‘firewood’ pala ‘high, up’ (Vasquez de Ruiz 2009)
‘sack or bag’ tulu tulu tulu tolo ‘bag'
‘vegetable waste/grass’ taba ‘rubbish consisting of branches and leaves which covers rocky regions’ taba ‘scrub, place full of scrub’ taba ‘mosquito, rubbish, tangle’ tape ‘grass’ ta’pe ‘grass, bush’
‘larva/worm’ cuzu ‘larva of some insects’ cussu ‘larva of beetle (?!)’ kuzu ‘thick worm, found especially in potatoes’ ku’ʃi ‘worm
‘fine straw, tow-like rubbish’ punzu punzu ‘rubbish, tow, fine straw’ pu’chu ‘rest'
‘small leaves, fibrous rubbish’ pu[zha] pu[zha] ‘stalk, rubbish’
‘red’ pichi ‘red, crimson, scarlet’ pichi ‘red, crimson’ piku(ˈtik), piki(tik) (Vasquez de Ruiz 2009)
‘louse’ pilis ‘body louse of human or animals’ pilis ‘body louse’ pilis ‘body louse’ palekˈtɨ
‘(vessel for) chicha malta ‘small clay jug to store or sell chicha malta ‘small jug made of fired clay’ mala ‘sugar cane juice, chicha’
‘laugh’ jizi ‘laughing, one who laughs without discretion’ jissi jizi ‘laughing’
‘field’ (?) chas ‘spontaneous growth of potatoes in an already harvested field’
‘fresh, young’ (?) batiuc ‘lamb’ ba’tu fu ‘freshly grown hair’
‘naughty, playful, restless’ munzhi ‘naughty, playful, restless’


  1. ^ Urban, Matthias (2018). The lexical legacy of substrate languages: a test case from the southern Ecuadorian highlands. Transactions of the Philological Society, Volume 00 (2018) 1–25.
  2. ^ Cordero, Luis, [1895] 1992. Diccionario quichua-castellano y castellano-quichua, 5th edn. Quito: Proyecto Educación Bilingüe Intercultural/Corporación Editora Nacional.
  3. ^ Cordero Palacios, Octavio, [1923] 1981. El quechua y el cañari (contribución para la historia precuencana de las provincias azuayas), 2nd edn. Cuenca: Departamento de Difusión Cultural, Universidad de Cuenca.
  4. ^ Paris, Julio, 1961. Gramática de la lengua quichua actualmente en uso entre los indígenas del Eduador, 3rd edn. Revision and Quichua dictionary by José María Lévesque and Gilberto Mejía. Quito: Santo Domingo.