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Kawésqar (Qawasqar), also known as Alacaluf,[3] is a critically endangered language isolate spoken in southern Chile by the Kawésqar people. Originally part of a small family,[2] only the northern language remains. Only 7 speakers of the language remain, most of them on Wellington Island off the southwestern coast of Chile.[4]

Native toChile
RegionChannel Region, western Patagonia, Wellington Island off south Chilean coast, 49° south, with centre in Puerto Edén.
Ethnicity2,600 Alacaluf people (2002 census)[1]
Native speakers
12 (2006)[1]
  • Kawésqar
Language codes
ISO 639-3alc
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.




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      


The alphabet in use has the following letters: 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.[1] However, differences are reported between dialects, and some sounds are not represented.

Morphology and syntaxEdit

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.

See alsoEdit


  • 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. ^ a b Kawésqar at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ a b Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Qawasqar". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Spelling variants include Kaweskar, Kawaskar, Qawashqar, Kaueskar and Alakaluf, Halakwulup, Halakwalip; other names include Tawókser, Aksanás/Aksana and Hekaine.
  4. ^ "Endangered Languages Project". Retrieved 2017-01-24.

External linksEdit