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Learn Quechua (Part 1): Language of the Incas

Learn Quechua in Cusco

Learn Quechua: Language of the Incas in Cusco

The decision to learn Quechua, or even just a few words of it, is an important one when you travel to Cusco or make Cusco your home. By learning the language, you are embarking on a journey through time and culture. The ancient capital of the Inca Empire, Cusco, is a place where the past seamlessly blends with the present. Among the many aspects that make this city and its surroundings enchanting is Quechua—a linguistic treasure that resonates with the heartbeat of its people and history.

Quechua is more than just a language; it’s a connection to the Inca heritage, a bridge to the local people, and a window into the rich tapestry of Andean culture. With approximately 8-10 million speakers, Quechua holds the distinction of being the largest spoken indigenous language in the Americas. Its importance cannot be overstated, and its influence continues to grow, not just in Peru but worldwide.

In recent years, Quechua has been experiencing a resurgence in popularity, fueled by a renewed interest in indigenous cultures and traditions. Even Google has recognized its significance by adding Quechua to its translator, making it easier for travelers and language enthusiasts to delve into its beauty and depth.

In this blog series, we’ll take you on a linguistic journey through Cusco’s unique dialect of Quechua, highlighting 10 essential words or phrases in each post that will not only enhance your Andean experience but also bring you closer to the welcoming local community. So, let’s start our exploration of this fascinating language, one word at a time.

Words of the Day

Inti
noun. Sun

Fun fact:
One intriguing fact about the Inca sun god, Inti, is that he was considered the most important deity in the Inca religion, representing not only the sun but also concepts of fertility and prosperity. The Inca rulers, who claimed to be descendants of Inti, believed that they held divine authority because of their connection to this powerful sun god.

Killa

noun. Moon

Fun fact: The town of Quillabamba, which lies 4 hours north of Cusco, gets its name from the Quechua words Killa (moon) and Pampa (used to describe the plains of South America south of the Amazon).

Wasi

noun. House

Unu

noun. Water

Fun fact: Did you know that most of the water in Cusco comes from the lake of Piuray? The city gets about 42% of its water from Piuray, and 20 other smaller communities depend on the lake as well.

Nina

noun. Fire

Warmi

noun. Woman

Qhari

noun. Man

Tayta

noun. Father

Mama

noun. Mother

Raymi

noun. Festival

Fun fact: Inti Raymi, the Inca festival of the sun, was once banned by Spanish conquistadors but has since been revived, attracting crowds with its colorful celebrations in Cusco, Peru.

If you are looking to further immerse yourself in indigenous Andean culture, consider these tours!

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