Mapuche () or Mapudungun (from mapu 'land' and dungun 'speak, speech') is an Araucanian language related to Huilliche spoken in south-central Chile and west central Argentina by the Mapuche people (from mapu 'land' and che 'people'). It is also spelled Mapuzugun and Mapudungu. It was formerly known as Araucanian, the name given to the Mapuche by the Spaniards; the Mapuche avoid it as a remnant of Spanish colonialism.
Mapudungun is not an official language of Chile or Argentina and has received virtually no government support throughout its history. It is not used as a language of instruction in either country's educational system despite the Chilean government's commitment to provide full access to education in Mapuche areas in southern Chile. There is an ongoing political debate over which alphabet to use as the standard alphabet of written Mapudungun. There are approximately 144,000 native speakers in Chile and another 8,400 in west central Argentina.
As of 2013 only 2.4% of urban speakers and 16% of rural speakers use Mapudungun when speaking with children, and only 3.8% of speakers aged 10–19 years in the south of Chile (the language's stronghold) are "highly competent" in the language.
Depending on the alphabet, the sound /tʃ/ is spelled ⟨ch⟩ or ⟨c⟩, and /ŋ/ as ⟨g⟩ or ⟨ng⟩. The language is called either the "speech (d/zuŋun) of the land (mapu)" or the "speech of the people (tʃe)". An ⟨n⟩ may connect the two words. There are thus several ways to write the name of the language:
Moulian et al. (2015) argue that the Puquina language influenced Mapuche language long before the rise of the Inca Empire. The influence of Puquine is thought to be the reason for the existence of Mapuche-Aymara-Quechua cognates The following Pre-Incan cognates have been identified by Moulian et al.: sun (Mapudungun: antü, Quechua: inti), moon (Mapudungun: küllen, Quechua: killa), warlock (Mapudungun: kalku, Quechua: kawchu), salt (Mapudungun: chadi, Quechua: cachi) and mother (Mapudungun: ñuque, Quechua: ñuñu). This areal linguistic influence may have arrived with a migratory wave arising from the collapse of the Tiwanaku Empire around 1000 CE.
The discovery of many Chono toponyms in Chiloé Archipelago, where Huilliche, a language closely related to Mapudungun, has been dominant, suggest that Mapudungun displaced Chono there prior to the arrival of the Spanish in the mid 16th century. A theory postulated by chronicler José Pérez García holds that the Cuncos settled in Chiloé Island in Pre-Hispanic times as consequence of a push from more northern Huilliches, who in turn were being displaced by Mapuches.
As the 16th and 17th century Central Chile was becoming a melting pot for uprooted indigenous peoples, it has been argued that Mapuche, Quechua and Spanish coexisted there, with significant biligualism, during the 17th century. However the indigenous language that has influenced Chilean Spanish the most is Quechua rather than Mapuche.
During the 17th and 18th centuries most of Chiloé Archipelago's population was bilingual and according to John Byron many Spaniards preferred to use the local Huilliche language because they considered it more beautiful. Around the same time, Governor Narciso de Santa María complained that Spanish settlers in the islands could not speak Spanish properly, but could speak Veliche, and that this second language was more used.
Mapudungun was once the only language spoken in central Chile. The sociolinguistic situation of the Mapuche has changed rapidly. Now, nearly all of Mapuche people are bilingual or monolingual in Spanish. The degree of bilingualism depends on the community, participation in Chilean society, and the individual's choice towards the traditional or modern/urban way of life.
Linguist Robert A. Croese divides Mapudungun into eight dialectal sub-groups (I-VIII). Sub-group I is centered in Arauco Province, Sub-group II is the dialect of Angol, Los Ángeles and the middle and lower Bío Bío River. Sub-group III is centered around Purén. In the areas around Lonquimay, Melipeuco and Allipén River dialect sub-group IV is spoken. Sub-group V is spoken at the coast of Araucanía Region including Queule, Budi Lake and Toltén.
Temuco is the epicenter of the Mapuche territory today. Around Temuco, Freire and Gorbea the sub-group VI is spoken. Group VII is spoken in Valdivia Province plus Pucón and Curarrehue. The last "dialect" sub-group is VIII which is the Huilliche language spoken from Lago Ranco and Río Bueno to the south and is not mutually intelligible with the other dialects.
These can be grouped in four dialect groups: north, central, south-central and south. These are further divided into eight sub-groups: I and II (northern), III–IV (central), V-VII (south-central) and VIII (southern). The sub-groups III-VII are more closely related to each other than they are to I-II and VIII. Croese finds these relationships as consistent, but not proof, with the theory of origin of the Mapuche proposed by Ricardo E. Latcham.
The Mapudungun spoken in the Argentinian provinces of Neuquen and Río Negro is similar to that of the central dialect group in Chile, while the Ranquel (Rankülche) variety spoken in the Argentinian province of La Pampa is closer to the northern dialect group.
Mapudungun has partially predictable, non-contrastive stress. The stressed syllable is generally the last one if it is closed (awkán 'game', tralkán 'thunder'), and the one before last if the last one is open (rúka 'house', lóngko 'head'). There is no phonemic tone.
The Mapuche had no writing system before the Spanish arrived, but the language is now written with the Latin script. Although the orthography used in this article is based on the Alfabeto Mapuche Unificado, the system used by Chilean linguists and other people in many publications in the language, the competing Ragileo, Nhewenh and Azumchefi systems all have their supporters, and there is still no consensus among authorities, linguists and Mapuche communities. The same word can look very different in each system, with the word for "conversation or story" being written either gvxam, gytram, or ngütram, for example.
In late 2006, Mapuche leaders threatened to sue Microsoft when the latter completed a translation of their Windows operating system into Mapudungun. They claimed that Microsoft needed permission to do so and had not sought it. The event can be seen in the light of the greater political struggle concerning the alphabet that should become the standard alphabet of the Mapuche people.
The indicative present paradigm for an intransitive verb like konün 'enter' is as follows:
What some authors have described as an inverse system (similar to the ones described for Algonquian languages) can be seen from the forms of a transitive verb like pen 'see'. The 'intransitive' forms are the following:
The 'transitive' forms are the following (only singular forms are provided here):
When a third person interacts with a first or second person, the forms are direct (without -e) or inverse (with -e); the speaker has no choice. When two third persons interact, two different forms are available: the direct form (pefi) is appropriate when the agent is topical (the central figure in that particular passage). The inverse form (peenew) is appropriate when the patient is topical. Thus, chi wentru pefi chi domo means 'the man saw the woman' while chi wentru peeyew chi domo means something like 'the man was seen by the woman'. However, that it is not a passive construction; the passive would be chi wentru pengey 'the man was seen; someone saw the man'. Therefore, a better translation may be 'it was the woman who saw the man' or 'the woman was the one who saw the man'.
The Chilean Ministry of Education created the Office of Intercultural Bilingual Education in 1996 in an attempt to include indigenous language in education. By 2004, there were still no programs in public schools in Santiago, despite the fact that 50% of the country’s Mapuche population resides in and around the area of Santiago. 30.4% of Mapuche students never graduate eighth grade and they have high rates of poverty. Most language revitalization efforts have been in rural communities and these efforts have been received in different ways by the Mapuche population: Ortiz says some feel that teaching Mapudungu in schools will set their children behind other Chileans, which reveals that their culture has been devalued by the Chilean government for so long that, unfortunately, some Mapuche people have come to see their language as worthless, too, which is a direct and lasting impact of colonization. Despite the absence of Mapudungun instruction in public schools, there are limited language course offerings at select Chilean universities, such as Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.
The formalization and normalization of Mapudungun was effected by the first Mapudungun grammar published by the Jesuit priest Luis de Valdivia in 1606 (). More important is the Arte de la Lengua General del Reyno de Chile by the Jesuit Andrés Fabrés (1765, Lima) composed of a grammar and dictionary. In 1776 three volumes in Latin were published in Westphalia (Chilidúgú sive Res Chilenses) by the German Jesuit Bernhard Havestadt.Arte y Gramatica General de la Lengva que Corre en Todo el Reyno de Chile
The work by Febrés was used as a basic preparation from 1810 for missionary priests going into the regions occupied by the Mapuche people. A corrected version was completed in 1846 and a summary, without a dictionary in 1864.
The most comprehensive works to date are the ones by Augusta (1903, 1916). Salas (1992, 2006) is an introduction for non-specialists, featuring an ethnographic introduction and a valuable text collection as well. Zúñiga (2006) includes a complete grammatical description, a bilingual dictionary, some texts and an audio CD with text recordings (educational material, a traditional folktale and six contemporary poems). Smeets (1989) and Zúñiga (2000) are for specialists only. Fernández-Garay (2005) introduces both the language and the culture. Catrileo (1995) and the dictionaries by Hernández & Ramos are trilingual (Spanish, English and Mapudungun).