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Mapuche (Mapudungun)

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.

Mapuche alphabets

Mapuche alphabet

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 in Chile.
  • 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)


Information about the Mapuche language

Mapuche vocabulary

Online Mapuche dictionaries

Bible in Mapuche

Language isolates

Ainu, Basque, Burushaski, Eskayan, Haida, Karuk, Korean, Mapuche, Nivkh, Purepecha, Seri, Sumerian, Wardaman

Other languages written with the Latin alphabet

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