Kallawaya

Katja Hannß

Kallawaya is a mixed and secret language spoken in the Charazani region of north-western Bolivia. As a mixed language, Kallawaya takes its lexicon and grammar from different and genetically unrelated languages. While the grammar derives from a Southern Quechua variety, the lexicon of Pukina is mainly provided by extinct Pukina. Other major lexifier languages of Kallawaya are Quechua and Aymara, while Spanish, Takanan languages, and Kunza contributed only minor parts to the Kallawaya lexicon. Kallawaya is also secret, because certain parts of the language, especially the meanings of words, are considered secret by its speakers. In addition, the Kallawaya language is used only by traditional herbalists during healing ceremonies and, as such, has a reduced lexicon. The language is acquired only as L2, while the native language of the Kallawaya herbalists is Quechua.

The Kallawaya project has three main objectives: (1) the etymological investigation of Kallawaya; (2) an examination of so-called lexical manipulations; i.e. presumably conscious contortions of Quechua and Aymara words in Kallawaya to render them unintelligible to outsiders; (3) research on non-Quechua grammatical elements in the Kallawaya language.

Research on Kallawaya is funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) (see: http://gepris.dfg.de/gepris/projekt/218063607).