Media Lengua dictionary

by Jesse Stewart with Gabriela Prado Ayala and Lucia Gonza Inlago

The language and its speakers

Name: Media Lengua
Other names: Chaupi-shimi, Chaupi-lengua, Chaupi-Quichua, Quichuañol, Chapu-shimi, or Llanga-shimi
Most names roughly translate to ‘half-language’, while Quichuañol is a portmanteau of ‘Quichua’ and ‘Spanish and Llangashimi is a pejorative term often used in the community to refer to the language. It roughly translates as ‘nothing-language’.

ISO 639-3: mue
Glottolog: medi1245

Genealogical affiliation: Mixed Language: Imbabura Quichua (qvi) – Ecuadorian Spanish (spa)

Speakers: Approximately 2,000 in total: 600 in Pijal and 1,400 in communities just outside the town of San Pablo (Angla, Casco Valenzuela, El Topo)

Social role of the language:
Pijal- Intra-community language used by speakers aged 40+
San Pablo communities- Intra-community language with children still learning the language

Multilingualism: All speakers have varying degrees of fluency in Spanish and Quichua
Literacy: Low; One published text (Stories and Traditions from Pijal, Stewart 2013)

Geographical location: Pijal, Imbabura, Ecuador (0.1727° N, 78.1921° W)
Geographical description: Northern Andes, 2,400 masl, facing Mt. Imbabura, an inactive stratovolcano, and Lake San Pablo to the North with Yanaurcu, an extinct Pliocene stratovolcano to the west, and Cusín, an extinct Pleistocene stratovolcano to the east.

Economic activity: Agriculture, floriculture, livestock, textile, artisanry, construction, tourism

Early Important work:
Muysken, P. (1997). Media Lengua. In S. G. Thomason (Ed.), Contact languages: A wider perspective (pp. 365-426). Amsterdam: J. Benjamins Pub. Co.
Note: This work in on the Cotopaxi dialect of Media Lengua, not Imbabura.

Source of the Data

Data source: This dictionary comes from three primary sources:

  1. Sentence elicitations (spa to mue) gathered between 2010-2012 (verified independently by other speakers for accuracy),

  2. 2015–2019 corpus of natural speech data, recorded, transcribed, and translated by native Media Lengua speakers (AILLA, in-prep),

  3. Stories and Traditions from Pijal (Stewart, 2013) recorded narratives verified by native Media Lengua speakers.


Language consultants: Lucia Gonza Inlago, Mercedes Tabango, Antonio Maldonado, Isabel Bonilla, Luz Maria Gualacata, Elvia Gualacata, Dolores Lechon Bonilla, Zoila Marina, Feliciano Inuca†, Maricela Pante, Isabel Quilumba, Rosa Tocagon, Luis Bonilla, Jose Manuel Antamba Lechon†, Oswaldo Tocagon, Bolivia Chicaiza, Anita Cañarejo, Carmen Cañarejo†, Homero Gonza, Rodrigo Gonza, Maria Cristina Maldonado, Miryam Gonza, Carmen Quilumbaqui, José Manuel Casco, Rosa Maria Chicaiza, Josefa Gonza, Josefa Tabango, Maria Tabango, Segundo Catucuago, Jose Maria Cabascango, Jose Antonio Caluqui, Maria Fonte, Maria Calapaque, Dolores Sanchez

Data collection: Jesse Stewart, Gabriela Prado Ayala, Lucia Gonza Inlago, Mercedes Tabango, Steeven Inuca Gonza, Marylin Tocagón

Media Lengua transcriptions: Lucia Gonza Inlago, Mercedes Tabango, Jesse Stewart
Media Lengua to Quichua translations: Lucia Gonza Inlago, Mercedes Tabango, Isabel Bonilla, Antonio Maldonado, Carmen Quilumbaqui, José Manuel Casco, Taliza Chavez Cordova
Media Lengua to Spanish translations: Lucia Gonza Inlago, Mercedes Tabango, Isabel Bonilla, Antonio Maldonado, Carmen Quilumbaqui, José Manuel Casco, Gabriela Prado Ayala, Jesse Stewart, Cecilia Ayala Narváez
Media Lengua to English translations: Jesse Stewart

Dictionary headwords collected by: Jesse Stewart, Gabriela Prado Ayala, Olga Kriukova, Taliza Chavez Cordova, Kristy Reyes Herrera, Adrián Marín Estrada, y Cecilia Ayala Narváez
Dictionary audio samples provided by: Lucia Gonza Inlago, Mercedes Tabango, Isabel Bonilla, Antonio Maldonado, Carmen Quilumbaqui, José Manuel Casco
Audio sample collected by: Jesse Stewart, Gabriela Prado Ayala, Steeven Inuca Gonza, Marylin Tocagón, Olga Kriukova, Kristy Reyes Herrera, Taliza Chavez Cordova, Adrián Marín
Dictionary editors: Jesse Stewart, Lucia Gonza Inlago, Gabriela Prado Ayala
Audio editors: Jesse Stewart, Olga Kriukova


  • Chimbo Aguinda, J. J., Ullauri Velasco, M. A., & Shiguango Andi, E. E. (2008). Shimiyukkamu-Diccionario: Kichwa-Español, Español-Kichwa (Segunda). Benjamín Carríon.
  • Kellogg, M. (2020). WordReference.
  • Kutylowski, J. (2018). DeepL Translator [Online Translator].
  • Stark, L., & Muysken, P. (1977). Diccionario Español-Quichua y Quichua-Español. Archivo Histórico del Guayas, Museo del Banco Central del Ecuador.
  • Prado, G., L. Gonza, J. Stewart (forthcoming). Recetas de mi comunidad/ Recetacunaca yopa comunidadmanta (1 ed.).
  • Stewart, J. (2013). Stories and traditions from Pijal: Told in Media Lengua (1 ed.). Charleston: CreateSpace.
  • Stewart (donor), J. (in-prep a). Media Lengua. The Archive of Indigenous Languages of Latin America (AILLA).

The orthography used in the dictionary

This dictionary makes use of our traditional writing system based on Spanish orthography. It does not incorporate Unified Quichua spelling as most speakers of Media Lengua have not been exposed to this system. That being said, it should be noted that our language is not Quichua or Spanish so there is no reason to adapt our spelling to the Unified Quichua system. Like other primarily oral languages around the world, we typically do not write our language, so when we do, we allow quite a bit of orthographic variation, which is presented in its own section. This is a descriptive dictionary based on oral speech gathered from multiple sources and thus should be treated as a guide instead of a be-all and end-all prescriptive collection of lemmas.

Chaupishimipa Diccionarioca Nuestro diccionario escrituraca tradicionaltami tenen; no quichua unificado veninchu, españolmanta venin yaqui ese escribishcata mas mejor entenderin genticunapa Pijalmanta. Asillata, nuestro hablayta no quichuata ni españolta no canchu, poreso nuestro propio escrituratami tenenchi.Nosotropash arshto maneracunatami escribingapa tenenchi (como otro idiomacunata mundopi); entoncesca diccionariopimi algunos variacioncunata presentanchi. Aquipica, nosotrosca uno descripciontallami variacionhuan presentanata querenchi, asillata ese diccionarioca guiashnami can; no reglashna canchu.

Alphabet: a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, l, m, n, ñ, o, p, q, r, s, t, u, v, x, y, z
Spelling variations include: k, w
Note: ch, ll are not treated as separate letters

How to use this dictionary? This dictionary uses the original Quichua spelling based on Spanish (modified for Imbabura Media Lengua & Quichua); avoid using unified Quichua. If you cannot find the word you are looking for on the first try, consider using one or more of the variations found in the following table.

Comota ese diccionariota usarin? Ese diccionarioca español escribishcata usarin variacioncunahuan Imbaburamanta; no escribipanguichu unificado quichuahuan. Arshto variaciontami abin, entoncesca si palabrata quereshpa no encontranguichu, otro escribishcata intentapangui. Aquipica uno ejemplocunaca abin:

Try/ Intentipay: Example/ Ejemploca:
i → e, y, ie, eikulira → culera; silu → cielo
u → o, ouabaju → abajo; kuta → cuota
diptongos (eu, ue, etc.)bueno, amuerso
g → dsuedra
b → gaguela
k → c, jkaminu → camino; kari → jari
w → hu-/ gu-warmi → huarmi/ guarmi
h → 0 habina → abina
p-b/v, t-d, c-gplata, acabana, novio, tiempo, dedo, gato
m → nlimpiu → linfiu
s, z → tssambo → tsambo; kasu → catsu
y → ityana → tiana
ll → lallpa → alpa
p → fpuyu → fuyu; tapial → tafial
rr → rshharto → arshto
st → shtfiesta → fishta
Verbocuna -nahuan, na -y:comiy → comina

Table 1: Possible spelling variations and example words.

Types of special information

Special fields:
Synonyms (link to headwords)
Spanish translation
Quichua translation

Pronunciation guide

Writing Pronunciation Reference Word
b-, v-/b/botas
-b-, -v-/β/bravo
ci/ce/s/ + /i/, /e/acial
ca/co/cu/k/ + /u/, /o/acabana
gi/ge/x~h/ + /i/, /e/congelana
ga/go/gu/ɡ/ + /a/, /u/amiga
gua/guo/ɣ/, /w/ + /a/, /u/agua
gui/gue/ɡ/ + /i/, /e/guerra
hmute hablana
j/x/ ~ /h/hoja
qui/que/k/ + /i/, /e/esquina

Table 2: Pronunciation guide

What is Media Lengua?

Media Lengua is a rare mixed language spoken in the Ecuadorian highlands. What makes Media Lengua, (and other mixed languages) so unique is its genesis. Media Lengua has a split ancestry where nearly all (90%) root words (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, demonstratives etc.) from Spanish have replaced their Quichua counterparts while maintaining functional morphemes from Quichua with no grammatical simplification.

Mixed languages hold a wealth of information which could be used to better understand the sociological, psychological and neurological factors of language that allow humans to take two typologically unrelated, fully functional languages, split them apart and create a new, fully functional language based on different linguistic components.

Today Spanish is the dominant language spoken in Pijal. Media Lengua is typically only spoken by those aged 40 and above making it a moribund and endangered language. Those aged 40 and above are also fluent in Quichua and Spanish while Community members aged 25 and above typically speak Spanish and have a working knowledge of Quichua. Those younger than 25, however, are typically monolingual with only a passive knowledge of Quichua.

Queta chaupishimita?
Chaupishimica (media lenguama) uno idiomata mesclashcami can. Nosotrosca chaupishimitami hablanchi comunidad Pijalpi, parroquia Gonzalez Suarezpi, canton Otavalopi, provincia Imbaburapi, paismi Ecuadorpi. Nuestro idiomaca especialmi can yaque casi todito palabracunaca españolmantami venen (sustantivocunaca, verbocunaca, adjectivocunaca, pronombrecunaca, demonstrativocunaca, ademas) pero casi todito gramaticaca quichuamanta venen. Asillata, idiomashnacunaca raro raromi can mundopi. Nosotrosca quichuatapash españoltapash hablanchi, asillata, tres idiomata hablanchi Pijalpi. Asi, chaupishimitami hablanchi porque querenchi, yami parte nuestro propio culturamanta.

Deaymanta, yaque ese chaupi idiomacunaca raro raromi mundopi, poco linguistica investigacionta abin. Comoquiera, ese chaupi idiomacunaca arshto informaciontami tenen intendingapa asi nuestro culturata, nuestro pensamientocunata, y nuestro ñuctu desarrollota. Linguistica investigacionhuan intindyta podinchi asi como genticunaca dos idiomata dividyta podin otro nuevo idiomata creangapa sin mesclachina.

Ahora tiempoca, nuestro jobencunaca mas españolta hablan. Nuestro chaupishimica yami hablashca nuestro genticuna mas de 40 añocunata. Asi nuestro idioma yami peligropi. Nuestro genticunaca mas mayor que 20 añotami españolta hablan y poco quichuata sabin pero nuestro jobencunaca menor que 20 añotami asilla españolta hablan. Nosotrosca ese materialta atsinchi nuestro idiomata protegengapa nuestro comunidadpi.

Quick Statistics from this Dictionary

Part of Speech
Nouns: 55%
Verbs: 21%
Adjectives: 14%
Other: 10%

Media Lengua Lexical Origins
Spanish: 89%
Quichua: 10%
Other: 1%

Pijal Quichua Lexical Origins
Rough estimates
Quichua: 57%
Spanish: 42%
Other: 1%



Plosivep bt dk ɡ
Fricative[ɸ]fs zʃ ʒʐx[h]
Lateral Fricative
Lateral Approximantl
Lateral Flap

Table 3: IPA Chart for Media Lengua. The inventory also includes /w/. Common allophones are marked in brackets ([]) and affricates are presented under the place of final articulation.

Upon hearing Media Lengua for the first time, non-native speakers of Quichua will often assume they are hearing a Quichua. This is because the overall prosody and rhythm of Media Lengua essentially conforms to that of Quichua with some innovative pitch accents that can reach approximately 1.5 times the height of a standard pitch accent (Stewart, 2015). Additionally, the Spanish origin vocabulary in Media Lengua often appears to conform to Quichua phonotactics. Yet, Media Lengua has adopted a number of phonemes from Spanish that help maintain contrasts. For example, in the native Quichua lexicon, voiced obstruents only appear allophonically in the post-sonorant position (1), while in Media Lengua voiced obstruents, namely stops, are phonemic (2) (Stewart, 2018a) and have been shown to be consistently identified as different aurally in identification task experiments (Stewart, 2015).

(1)[-sonorant]→[+voiced]/ [+sonorant]
wasi-kuna-manta [wasiɡunamanda]
'from the houses'
(2)paño[paɲo̝]'fabric'    baño[baɲo̝]'bathroom'
tia[tia]'aunt'    dia[dia]'day'
col[ko̝l]'cabbage'    gol[ɡo̝l]'goal'

Interestingly, Media Lengua speakers do not make use of the post-sonorant obstruent voicing rule with most nominal morphology (3) even though it is common in their dialect of Quichua (see 1) (Stewart, 2011).

casa-kuna-manta [casakunamanta]
'from the houses'

However, the voicing rule is preserved with most verbal morphology. See example (4) for Quichua and (5) for Media Lengua.

miku-nki [mikunɡi]
'You eat.'
comi-ngui [ko̝minɡi]
'You eat.'

The Imbabura dialect of Quichua makes use of [f] (6) where other dialects of Quichua and other Quechuan languages may use aspirated [pʰ] (7) or ejective [pʼ] (8). This feature is also present in Media Lengua words of Quichua origin (9) and has even made its way into some Spanish borrowings (10) in addition to preserving /f/ in Spanish origin words.

(6)puyu[fuju]'cloud'(Imbabura Quichua)(Gómez-Rendón, 2007)
(7)puyu[uju]'cloud'(Cotopaxi Quichua)(Kohlberger, 2010)
(8)phuyu[p'uju]'cloud'(Cuzco Quechua)(Parker, 1964)
(9)fuyu[fuju]'cloud'(Media Lengua)(Stewart, 2011; this dictionary)
(10)linfio[linfio̝]'clean' from Spanish limpio [limpio] ‘clean’(Media Lengua)(this dictionary)
(11)fuerte[fueɾʃte]'strong' from Spanish fuerte [fueɾte] ‘strong’(Media Lengua)(this dictionary)

Media Lengua also has a number of Quichua adaptations that influence the pronunciation of the Spanish origin vocabulary. Example (12) shows that intervocalic /s/ becomes voiced [z] in Media Lengua; example (13) shows that the Spanish origin trill (/r/) becomes a voiced retroflex fricative (/ʐ/); and example (14) shows that the Spanish origin palatal lateral approximant (/ʎ/) becomes a voiced postalveolar fricative (/ʒ/).

(12)mesa[mesa]'table'metsa[meza]'table'(Stewart, 2011)
(13)arriba[ariba]'above'arriba[aʐiba]'above'(Stewart, 2020)
(14)gallo[ɡaʎo]'rooster'gallo[ɡaʒo̝]'rooster'(Stewart, 2020)

Media Lengua also maintains a number of archaic Spanish preservations; most notably word initial /x/ represented orthographically with which as become mute in modern dialects of Spanish (15):

(15)habas[aβas]'fava beans'jabas[xavas]'fava beans'(Stewart, 2011)
hacha[aʧa]'axe'jacha[xaʧa]'axe'(Stewart, 2011)


Closei iu u
Opena a

Table 4: Media Lengua vowel chart based on Stewart (2011). Italic vowels are of Quichua origin.

The Media Lengua vowel system has a fair amount of attention in the literature (see e.g., Gómez-Rendón, 2005; Muysken, 1997; Onosson & Stewart, under-review; Stewart, 2011, 2014, 2018b) due to its complex arrangement of both Spanish- and Quichua-origin vowel systems. The native Quichua vowel system makes use of three corner vowels (/i, u, a/), which occupy large acoustic ranges (Lipski, 2015; Stewart, 2014), while the native Spanish vowel system makes use of five vowels (/i, u, e, o, a/).

For the Salcedo (Cotopaxi) dialect of Media Lengua, which has been purported to no longer be spoken (Shappeck, 2011; Stewart, 2011), Muysken (1997) claimed that Spanish origin mid-vowels (/e, o/) assimilate to their respective Quichua high vowels (/i, u/) with the exception of occasional preservations of /e/ and /o/ in Spanish origin names, interjections, and vowels located in stressed positions. Gómez-Rendón (2007) hypothesizes that Media Lengua makes use of three options when adapting Spanish words (1) a word could maintain Spanish phonology [kabeza] cabeza 'head', (2) undergo partial assimilation [kabisa] cabeza ‘head’, or (3) undergo complete assimilation [kabiza] cabeza ‘head’. He also suggests that high-frequency words tend to undergo complete assimilation, but low-frequency do not. However, Stewart (2014, 2018) puts forth experimental and acoustic evidence that supports his claim that Media Lengua could be dealing with as many as eight vowels: Spanish-derived [i, a, u], which exist as near-mergers (covert contrasts) with Kichwa-derived [i, a, u] and Spanish-derived [e] and [o] exist with substantial overlap with Quichua and Spanish origin [i, a, u]. Yet, Spanish origin mid vowels maintain just enough distance to allow for the possibility of perceptual contrasts. Stewart (2018) uses an 2AFC identification task experiment to show that Media Lengua speakers are indeed able to constantly identify differences between mid- and high vowels. Onosson and Stewart (under-review) have put forth additional acoustic evidence that Media Lengua speakers have adopted nearly all Spanish origin diphthongs but with adjustments that fit within the overlapping mid- and high-vowel acoustic space.

The Media Lengua diphthongal system contains both Spanish origin /ae, ea, oa, ei, ie, oe, ue, ao, eo, io, oi, eu, uo/ and shared Quichua-Spanish origin /ia, ua, ai, ui, au, iu/. Words containing /ou/ were not identified; however, this is a very low frequency diphthong (typically produced as a monophthong) most common in Spanish borrowings from French, which have not made their way into Media Lengua.


Prosody, most notably intonation, has also been investigated in Media Lengua. Muysken (1997) identifies that, like Quichua, Media Lengua makes use of penultimate stress, which consistently shifts as suffixes are added to a word (16).

‘from the little cows’
(based on Stewart, 2015)

Stewart’s (2015) analysis of Media Lengua intonation looks at pitch accents and confirms that they are ost adjectives typicarealized in the same position as stressed syllables described by Muysken (1997). The most common realization being a low-high pitch accent (L+H*) taking place at the prosodic word level on, leading up to, or just after the penultimate syllable of a word. In the majority of a cases, an L+H* pitch accent on the penultimate syllable describes word level prosody (17).

(17)         L+H*                  L+H*           L+H*      L%
'Father was angry with the children.'

However, in certain cases, a simple high (H*) may appear when the pitch accent follows the penultimate syllable of a disyllabic word or when a voiceless onset appears in the penultimate syllable (18). In both cases, Stewart suggests that this is caused by the lack of material to bear the pre-accental rise, which would otherwise be realized as a typical L+H* PA.

(18)H*       L+H    L%
'The candle is burning.'

Media Lengua also appears to mark emphasis at the prosodic word level with a substantial increase in pitch frequency on one or more words in an utterance (L+^H*) (19). Pitch accents may also appear in a stair step-like pattern in utterances containing reduplication where the low (L) on the second instance of the reduplicated pair is often undershot. In the first instance of the reduplicated pair, a standard L+H* appears while in the second instances an emphatic L+^H% PA takes place where the L may be undershot (20).

(19)     L+H*L+^H*                  L+H*             L+^H*    L+H*                          L-L%
Y alotro   vueltaotro bastanteta llevashpa,escondidito mio mamamantalleveshpa inkarkanchi
'And on the following day, we would go bringing another bunch [of beans] hidden from my mom.'
(20)        L+H*L+H*L+^H*      L+H*L-    H*   H-H%
Diaymantawachuwachubuscashkazin unocañata
'And on the following day, we would go bringing another bunch [of beans] hidden from my mom.'

Stewart also describes instances of intermediate boundaries appearing as a single low tone (L-). These are often observed in standard content questions (wh-questions) following the utterance-initial question constituent or in some cases after words containing an emphatic PA (21). There is also evidence of intermediate boundary tones in the form of pitch restart which take place in listing intonation just before the listing of items begins.

(21)          L+H*L-                    L%
Quienpatakese pelota?
'Whose ball is that?'

The intonational phrase in Media Lengua is marked by a low boundary tone (L%) at the end of nearly every utterance (17, 18, 19, 21). An exception to the configuration can be found in what Stewart refers to as clarifying utterances, which are marked with a high boundary tone (H%) (20). Clarifying utterances in Media Lengua are used in three typical scenarios: (1) to clarify that a topic within a conversation is shared by those speaking, (2) to provide information which was accidentally left out of the main clause, and (3) provide the listener with additional information.

Finally, there is also evidence of sonorant devoicing between voiceless obstruents, which affects the realization of pitch accents that fall on devoiced syllables (22).

Vosteka tuyu casapika
[bos.te.ka tu.ju]→[bos.te̥.ka tu.ju̥.ka]


Media Lengua, like Quichua, is an agglutinating language with SOV word order, which makes use of highly regular suffixation.


The formation of Media Lengua did not lead to the wholesale adoption of gender from Spanish. Instead it behaves more like Quichua; a language with no grammatical gender. However, some aspects of Media Lengua may suggest a functioning gender system (23).

(23)    b. Yo-caella-cabonit-a-miditsi-ni
ART.M-next-Mday.M-TOP     I-TOPshe-TOPpretty-F-VALsay-1
‘On the next day...’ ‘I say she is pretty.’
Consultant #43

However, there are very few signs of productive gender, other than in a few frozen forms (23a), and in some adjectives with semantically male/female referents (23b). Instead, possessive articles, demonstratives, and most adjectives typically appear in the original Spanish masculine form (Stewart, 2015). This is even true with Spanish-derived feminine nouns (morphologically evident from the -a on the nouns) (24), even when the noun is semantically feminine (25).

(24)Ellaca uno camisa rosadotami traijun.
Spanish: Ella tiene puesto una camisa rosada.
Quichua: Paica shuc camiseta churatami apamun.
‘She is wearing a pink shirt.’
Consultant #43
(25)Tuyo mujerca ondepitay?
Spanish: ¿Dónde esta tu esposa?
Quichua: Quiquinpa huarmica maypita?
‘Where is your wife?'
Consultant #43

Another example of this gender asymmetry is observed in the pronominal system with el (3s) occasionally used for both male and female referents. This is direct semantic calque from Quichua pay (3s), which is used for both male and female referents (26). It is most common in possessive forms with -pa (POSS), which may be influenced by the fact that Spanish does not have a gender contrast in the third person possessive (e.g., su/sus refers to 'his, her/ their'). However, ella (3s.F) is more frequent in Media Lengua than gender neutral el (27).

(26)Ese huarmica elpa cusahuanca colerashcami.
Ese huarmi-ca el-pacusa-huan-cacolera-shca-mi
DET woman-TOP3-POSShusband-INST-TOPangry-PRT-VAL
Spanish: Esta mujer está enojada con su esposo.
Quichua: Cay huarmyca paypa cusahuanca colerashkamy.
'They say that they buy and she takes them.'
Consultant #50
(27)Ellapa brazoca fuerte fuertemi.
Ella-pa brazo-cafuertefuerte-mi
she-POSS arm-TOPstrongstrong-VAL
Spanish: Sus brasos son muy fuertes.
Quichua: Paypa brasocunaca sinchi sinchimy.
'Her arms are really strong.'
Consultant #50

This asymmetry reflects the contribution of each source language, with Quichua having a stronger influence. While Media Lengua has some features that are the result of contact of two very different systems, it primarily behaves like other Quechuan languages. Media Lengua has slotted Spanish into Quichua, with surprisingly few extra Spanish features. In the dictionary, items with functional gender contrasts have their own entry (e.g., miedosa and miedoso 'scary'.)

Media Lengua, like Quichua, is an agglutinating language with SOV word order, which makes use of highly regular suffixation.

Verbal morphology

Media Lengua, like Quichua, has no irregular verbal morphology. Therefore, the following patterns can be applied to all verbs (barring semantic constraints). The citation form for verbs in this dictionary is the root in addition to the infinitive suffix -na (e.g., comi + na 'to eat').

Vina [βina] 'see'
Gerund: vi-shpa  Imperative (informal): vi-y  Same-subject converb: vi-chun
Participle: vi-shca  Imperative (formal): vi-pa-y  Different-subject converb: vi-cpi
Agent: vi-c  Imperative (respectful): vi-pa-ngui  
Nominal: vi-y  
PronounsPresentPast -rcaFuture I -griFuture II
2svos, vostevi-nguivi-rca-nguivi-gri-ngui
3el/ ella/ elcunavi-nvi-rcavi-gri-n
2pvoscunavi-ngui-chi  vi-rca-ngui-chi  vi-gri-ngui-chi  
PronounsContinuous -ju  Reflexive -ri  Desiderative -naya  Reciprocal -naju
2svos, vostevi-ju-nguivi-ri-nguivi-naya-ngui
3el/ ella/ elcunavi-ju-nvi-ri-nvi-naya-n
2pvoscunavi-ju-ngui-chi  vi-ri-ngui-chi  vi-naya-ngui-chi  vi-naju-ngui-chi  
PronounsCausative -chi  Deontic  Want + Verb  Can + Verb  
1syovi-chi-nivi-na ca-nivi-na quere-nivi-y-ta podi-ni
2svos, vostevi-chi-nguivi-na ca-nguivi-na quere-nguivi-y-ta podi-ngui
3el/ ella/ elcunavi-chi-nvi-na ca-nvi-na quere-nvi-y-ta podi-n
1pnosotro/nuestovi-chi-nchivi-na ca-nchivi-na quere-nchivi-y-ta podi-nchi
2pvoscunavi-chi-ngui-chi  vi-na ca-ngui-chi  vi-na quere-ngui-chi  vi-y-ta podi-ngui-chi  
PronounsPresent Participle -shca  Past Participle -shca  Validative -mi  Dubative I -chari  
1syovi-shca (ca-ni)vi-shca (ca-rca-ni)vi-ni-mivi-ni-chari
2svos, vostevi-shca (ca-ngui)vi-shca (ca-rca-ngui)vi-ngui-mivi-ngui-chari
3el/ ella/ elcunavi-shca (ca-n)vi-shca (ca-rca)vi-n-mivi-n-chari
1pnosotro/nuestovi-shca (ca-nchi)vi-shca (ca-rca-nchi)vi-nchi-mivi-nchi-chari
2pvoscunavi-shca (ca-ngui-chi)  vi-shca (ca-rca-ngui-chi)  vi-ngui-chi-mi  vi-ngui-chi-chari  
PronounsSupposition -yari  Conjecture -shi  Reportive tsena  Affrimative -mari  
1syovi-ni-yaryvi-ni-shivi-ni tse-nvi-ni-mari
2svos, vostevi-ngui-yaryvi-ngui-shivi-ngui tse-nvi-ngui-mari
3el/ ella/ elcunavi-n-yaryvi-n-shivi-n tse-nvi-n-mari
1pnosotro/nuestovi-nchi-yaryvi-nchi-shivi-nchi tse-nvi-nchi-mari
2pvoscunavi-ngui-chi-yary  vi-ngui-chi-shi  vi-ngui-chi tse-n  vi-ngui-chi-mari  
PronounsConditional Past  Remote Past  
2svos, vostevin-ca-rca-nguivi-rca-rca-ngui
3el/ ella/ elcunavin-ca-rcavi-rca-rca
2pvoscunavin-ca-rca-ngui-chi  vi-rca-rca-nguichi  

Nominal morphology

The following table shows nominal morphology which encodes number and case.

-cunapluralPLThis morpheme is used to indicate plurality (ex. cat → cats).
-taobjectOBJ/ ACCThis morpheme is used to indicate the direct object of a clause (ex. I want a dog).
-huanInstrumental/ ComitativeINSTThis morpheme marks that a given noun is an instrument used by the agent (ex. with the knife).
-kama(n)terminativeTERMThis morpheme is used to mark the end or limit of an action (ex. until midnight).
-mandirectional (allative)DIRThis morpheme is used to mark movement towards a place (ex. to the store).
-mantaablativeABLThis morpheme is used to mark movement from a place (ex. from the store).
-ndi(n)inclusive/ comitativeCOMThis morpheme marks accompaniment (ex. with a person).
-papossessive (genitive)POSS/ BENThis morpheme has two functions: the first is used to indicate the possessor of a noun (ex. The dog's bone) and the second is used to indicate purpose (ex. This is (in order) to fix it).
-pacmanorientativeORIThis morpheme is used to orientate the listener with reference to a specific house or business, similar to chez in French (ex. Lucia's house or the doctor's office).
-payadepreciative/ pejorativePEJ.fThis morpheme is used to criticize or depreciate women (ex. old bag).
-pilocativeLOCThis morpheme is used to indicate the location of a noun (ex. in the store) or reference point (ex. Here; there).
-puraintrative (among)INTRA  This morpheme is used to express the concept of 'between' or 'in the middle of' in English.
-rucudepreciative/ pejorativePEJ.mThis morpheme is used to criticize or depreciate men (ex. old geezer).
-sapaaugmentativeAUGThis morpheme is used to express exaggeration in size (ex. big headed).


In agreement with Cole's (1982 p. 163) analysis of clitics in Quichua, clitics in Media Lengua are also more accurately described independent suffixes as they can be used with all parts of speech. They often appear to the right nominal and verbal suffixes.

-catopic/ focusTOPThis morpheme is used to indicate the topic or focus of the clause or sentence.
-pish/-pashconjunction (additive)CONJThis morpheme is used similar to a conjunction (ej. and; or; both; nor).
-llalimitativeLIMThe morpheme is used to restrict or limit the action of a verb or indicate precision (ex. She just left/ She's the only one who left).
-shnasemblative (equative)SEMBThis morpheme is used to express similarity or likeness (ex. It's like a house).
-gudiminutive 1DIM.1This morpheme is used to indicate that the modified word is small in size or it is used to express affection (ex. the little dog; the cute baby). This morpheme is more common than "-hua".
-huadiminutive 2DIM.2This morpheme is used to indicate that the modified word is small in size or it is used to express affection (ex. the little dog; the cute baby). This morpheme is more common than "-gu".
-pachasuperlativeSUPER  This morpheme is used to express intensity or the highest grade of quality (ex. The best place).
-imaet ceteraETCThis morpheme is used to indicate that there are other things in a group, but they're not named. In English this roughly translates to et cetera.
Validators (Evidentials)
-mifirst hand informationVALThis morpheme is used to indicate first-hand knowledge of the information being uttered (ex. I'm sure that she left (i.e., I personally saw her go)).
-ma/-mariemphatic first hand information (affirmative)AFFThis morpheme is used to emphatically indicate first-hand knowledge of the information being uttered (ex. I'm quite sure that she left (i.e., I personally saw her go)).
-shiconjectureCJTRThis morpheme is used to indicate that the source of the information being uttered is inconclusive (ex. She could have left (but I'm just guessing)).
-cha(ri)dubitativeDUBThis morpheme is used to indicate that the information being uttered is doubtful (ex. She could have left, but I don't think so).
-yarisuppositionSUPThis morpheme is used to suggest that the information being uttered is certain (ex. I think/ believe she left).
-chunegationNEGThis morpheme is used to indicate that the sentence is negative (ex. This is not a house).
Question clitics
-chuyes/no questionsQ.ynThis morpheme is used to indicate that the sentence is a polar yes/no question (ex. Do you have a dog?).
-ta(c)wh-questionsQ.whThis morpheme is used to indicate a wh-question (ex. How old are you?).

The following are elicited examples of Media Lengua (2015: 29-30).

(28)Jose-caese palo-cuna-tael-pacasa-mantallega-ju-n.
Jose-TOPese palo-PL-ACC3-POSShouse-ABLarrive-PROG-3
'José is bringing the wood from his house.'Consultant #43
'Our animals drink water from the canal.'Consultant #43
'My sister accompanies my father to the plot of land.'Consultant #43
'My mom always gets a head start to cook lunch.'Consultant #43
'One can't predict when it's going to rain.'Consultant #43

The following paragraph is taken from Stewart (2013, p.20) as an example of spontaneous speech.

(33)Ahora-ca sobre matrimonio-mi uno poqu-ito detse-gri-ju-ni. Aqui nuestro
       comunidad-pi-ca, como detse-rca pedi-ngapa mano-ta i-shpa nobia-pacman
       papa-su-cuna-paman i-shpa-ca, nobio-pa genti-ca anda-n-mi lleva-shpa pan
       platano, naranja-mi; asi po-quito-go lleva-shpa anda-n, ya dentra-ngapa. Dentra-shca-pa
       despues-mi, ya vuelta, ese registro-pi-mi casara-chi-gri-n.
       'Now I am going to talk a little about weddings. Here in our community, it is said, in order to ask the hand in marriage the groom's family goes to the bride's and bride's parents' house bring a bit of bread, plantains and oranges in order to enter the house. After having entered, they go to get married in the civil registry.'
       Consultant #43

Pijal and Sumak Pacha

The Community of Pijal is located in the González Suárez parish of Otavalo, in the Province of Imbabura, Ecuador. A 15-minute bus ride makes Pijal easily accessible from the city of Otavalo. The Community of Pijal has organized a Community tourism project called Sumak Pacha meaning "Fertile Land" in Quichua. The organization, made up of 23 families, began operating in 2006. The Community tourism project embraces a profound respect for Pachamama 'Mother Earth', which is visible through its cultural exchange programs between visitors and Community members. The aim of this project includes: the strengthening of Pijal's cultural identity and the Community economy along with the development of equality, equity, and solidarity through intercultural practices. In addition to lodging and family exchange programs, Sumak Pacha offers a diverse choice of tourism packages including the opportunity to visit artisanal production centres, horseback riding, or trekking along the mountain trails and footpaths while visiting nearby lakes and waterfalls. Sumak Pacha guarantees the quality and security of its services along with an authentic community experience with its host families in their rural lodging. In addition, Sumak Pacha provides food, transportation and native guides for all excursions. All Community guides have been trained and hold professional licenses as native guides. Tourists will enjoy an unforgettable experience.


Funding sources: SSHRC IDG: 430-2018-00032; SSHRC Explore: 420575
Principal investigator: Jesse Stewart, University of Saskatchewan

Language consultants: Lucia Gonza Inlago, Mercedes Tabango, Antonio Maldonado, Isabel Bonilla, Luz Maria Gualacata, Elvia Gualacata, Dolores Lechon Bonilla, Zoila Marina, Feliciano Inuca†, Maricela Pante, Isabel Quilumba, Rosa Tocagon, Luis Bonilla, Jose Manuel Antamba Lechon†, Oswaldo Tocagon, Bolivia Chicaiza, Anita Cañarejo, Carmen Cañarejo†, Homero Gonza, Rodrigo Gonza, Maria Cristina Maldonado, Miryam Gonza, Carmen Quilumbaqui, Rosa Maria Chicaiza, Josefa Gonza, Josefa Tabango, Maria Tabango, Segundo Catucuago, Jose Maria Cabascango, Jose Antonio Caluqui, Maria Fonte, Maria Calapaque, Dolores Sanchez

Assistant lexicographers: Gabriela Prado Ayala, Lucia Gonza Inlago, Mercedes Tabango, Carmen Quilumbaqui, Isabel Bonilla, Antonio Maldonado, Carmen Quilumbaqui, José Manuel Casco, Steeven Inuca, Marylin Tocagón, Olga Kriukova, Kristy Reyes Herrera, Adrián Marín Estrada, Taliza Chavez Cordova, and Cecilia Ayala Narváez


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Gómez-Rendón, J. (2007). Grammatical borrowings in Imbabura Quichua. In Y. Matras (Ed.), Grammatical borrowing in cross-linguistic perspective (Vol. 1, pp. 481–521). Walter de Gruyter.

Gómez-Rendón, J. (2008). Mestizaje linguístico en Los Andes: Génesis y estructura de una lengua mixta. Abya-Yala.

Kriukova, O., & Stewart, J. (in-prep.) Media Lengua and Quichua syntactic parser.

Kohlberger, M. (2010). Cotopaxi Quichua: A phonological description and an analysis of stops and affricates in Central Highland Ecuadorian Quichua. University of Edinburgh.

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Onosson, S., & Stewart, J. (under-review). The effects of language contact on non-native vowel sequences in lexical borrowings: The case of Media Lengua.

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Stewart, J. (2018a). Voice onset time production in Spanish, Quichua, and Media Lengua. Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 48(2), 173–197.

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Stewart, J. (2020). A preliminary, descriptive survey of rhotic and approximant fricativization in Northern Ecuadorian Andean Spanish varieties, Quichua, and Media Lengua. In R. Rao (Ed.), Spanish Phonetics and Phonology in Contact: Studies from Africa, the Americas, and Spain. John Benjamins.

Full Entry Headword Part of Speech Meaning Description Spanish Quichua Examples
Full Entry Headword Part of Speech Meaning Description Spanish Quichua Etymology
Primary Text Analyzed Text Gloss Translation IGT