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Cha’palaa landscape

Cha’palaa (Barbacoan family) is the language of the approximately 10,000 Chachi people on the northwest coast of Ecuador. Originally inhabiting part of the Andean highlands, the Chachi migrated to the coastal rainforests under pressure from the Inca and Spanish invasions. Traditionally they lived in homesteads and came together at ceremonial centers for at important dates of the ritual calendar. Today they live in small communities along the Cayapas river and its tributaries, and are in contact with Spanish-speaking society represented by Afro-Ecuadorian peoples who settled the Pacific coast. Their lifestyle is mainly based on subsistence agriculture, with plantain as the basic staple, as well as cash crops like cacao and other activities like basketwork and logging. The Cha’palaa language is one of the five Barbacoan languages spoken in Ecuador and Colombia, and is an agglutinative language with primarily SOV word order and complex verbal morphology, including many epistemic and evidential markers.

Selected Publications

  • Barrett, Samuel A. 1925. The Cayapa Indians of Ecuador. New York: Haye Foundation. 694pp.
  • Lindskoog, John N. and Carrie A. 1964. Vocabulario cayapa. Quito: ILV.
  • Floyd, Simeon.. 2014. Four types of reduplication in the Cha’palaa language of Ecuador. In H. van der Voort, & G. Goodwin Gómez (Eds.), Reduplication in South American Indian Languages (pp. 77-114). Leiden: Brill.
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