GSE Faculty Research

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version



With more than ten million speakers and numerous local and regional varieties, the unification and standardization of Quechua/Quichua has been a complicated, politically charged, and lengthy process. In most Andean nations, great strides have been made towards unification of the language in recent decades. However, the process is far from complete, and multiple unresolved issues remain, at both national and local levels. A frequent sticking point in the process is the concern that the authenticity of the language will be lost in the move towards unification. This paper examines the potentially problematic tension between the goals of authenticity and unification. One case examines an orthographic debate which arose in the process of establishing an official orthography for Quechua at the national level in Peru. The second case study moves to the local level and concerns two indigenous communities in Saraguro in the southern Ecuadorian highlands where Spanish predominates but two Quichua varieties co-exist. The final section considers the implications of these debates and tensions for language planning and policy.


Reprinted in Language, Culture and Curriculum, Volume 11, Issue 3, 1998, pages 390-410.



Date Posted: 18 April 2007

This document has been peer reviewed.