Awa Pit language

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Awa Pit
Native toColombia, Ecuador
Ethnicity15,000 Awa-Kwaiker (2007)[1]
Native speakers
13,000 (2008)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3kwi

Awa or Awa pit, also known as Cuaiquer, is a Barbacoan language spoken by the Awa-Kwaiker people, who inhabit territory straddling northern Ecuador and southern Colombia (the language is sometimes also referred to as Coaiquer, Quaiquer, or Kwaiker in Colombia, and as Awapit in Ecuador).[3] Awa pit is classified by UNESCO as a severely endangered language.[4]

Speakers and characteristics[edit]

The Awa pit language has around 21 thousand speakers, mostly residing on the Colombian Pacific slopes of the Andes, with about a thousand in an adjacent area of Ecuador.[3] While most men also speak Spanish, the women and children are predominantly monolingual.[3] Literacy among Awa speakers is less than 1% in their native language and under 5% in the secondary Spanish language.[3]

The Awa pit language has a subject–object–verb structure and has adopted the Latin script.[3] Grammatically, Awa pit uses a characteristic conjunct/disjunct system of verb suffixes for person-marking which displays similarities with some Tibeto-Burman languages, such as the Newari language of Kathmandu.[5][6][7]


The Awa pit inventory is as follows:[8]

Consonant phonemes
Bilabial Alveolar Postalveolar Palatal Velar
plain lateral
Nasal m n ŋ
Stop p t k
Fricative voiceless s ɬ ʃ
voiced z ʒ
Approximant l j w
Vowel phonemes
Front Central Back
Close i ɨ u
Open a


  1. ^ a b Cuaiquer at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Awa-Cuaiquer". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ a b c d e Awa–Cuaiquer, per SIL, Ethnologue, 1986 and 1991. Retrieved 23 April 2012.
  4. ^ Haboud, Marleen; Adelaarurl, Willem (2008). "Awapit" . In: Moseley, Christopher, ed (2010). Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, 3rd edn, Paris. UNESCO Publishing (online version). Retrieved 23 April 2012.
  5. ^ Curnow, Timothy Jowan (1997). A Grammar of Awa Pit (Cuaiquer): An indigenous language of south-western Colombia. PhD Thesis, Australian National University, Canberra. Retrieved 23 April 2012.
  6. ^ Curnow, Timothy Jowan (2 May 2002). "Conjunct/disjunct marking in Awa Pit". Linguistics – An Interdisciplinary Journal of the Language Sciences 40(3):611-627.(subscription required)
  7. ^ Cysouw, Michael (2003). "The Paradigmatic Structure of Person Marking", p 43–44. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199554263
  8. ^ Curnow, Timothy Jowan; Liddicoat, Anthony J (1998). "The Barbacoan languages of Colombia and Ecuador". Anthropological Linguistics 40(3):384-408.(subscription required)

External links[edit]