Mapuche is spoken by between 240,000 and 700,000 people
in parts of southern Chile and western Argentina. It is a
language isolate unrelated to any other language. This language
is also known as Mapudungu or Araucanian, (Araucano
in Spanish), though the latter term is no longer used. The
native name for the language, Mapudungun, comes from
mapu (earth, land) and dungun (speak, speech).
Some linguists believe Mapuche is related to the Penutian
languages of North America, others link it to the Andean,
Arawakan or Mayan languages. It contains some loanwords from
Quechua and Spanish.
Main dialects of Mapuchue include Pehuenche, Huillice, Moluche
or Nguluche and Ranquenche.
The first grammar of Mapuche, Arte y Gramatica General de
la Lengva que Corre en Todo el Reyno de Chile, was published
in 1606 by Luis de Valdivia, a Jesuit priest. A grammar and dictionary
was published in 1765 by Andrés Febrés.
This chart shows three of the spelling systems for Mapuche:
El Alfabeto Unificado was developed by the
Sociedad Chilena de Lingüística (Chilean Linguists Society)
in 1986 and is used in publications and supported by the Catholic church
El Grafemario Raguileo was devised by Anselmo Ranguileo
Lincopil, a Mapuche, in 1982 and is favoured by the Mapuche organization
Consejo de Todas las Tierras / Aukiñ Wallmapu Ngulam.
El Grafemario Azümchefe was developed by the Corporación
Nacional de Desarrollo Indígena (CONADI), and is based on six
older spelling systems. It is recognized by the Chilean Ministry of
Education, but is not widely used.
Sample text in Mapuche
Kom pu mogence kisuzuam mvlekey, kom cegeygvn, logkogeygvn ka piwkegeygvn,
nieygvn kimvn fey mew mvley tañi yamniewael ka epuñpvle kejuwael egvn.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with
reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. (Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)