Kunza language

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Native toAtacama Desert
EthnicityAtacama people
Extinctca. 1950s
Language codes
ISO 639-3kuz

Kunza a.k.a. Cunza, also known as Likanantaí, Lipe, Ulipe, or Atacameño, is an extinct language isolate once spoken in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile and southern Perú (specifically in Peine, Socaire (Salar de Atacama), and Caspana) by the Lickan-antay people, who have since shifted to Spanish.


The last Kunza speaker was found in 1949, although some have been found since according to anthropologists.[clarification needed] There are 2,000 Atacameños (W. Adelaar).

Unattested varieties listed by Loukotka (1968):


Kaufman (1990) found a proposed connection between Kunza and the likewise unclassified Kapixaná to be plausible; however, when that language was more fully described in 2004, it turned out to be an isolate.


Kunza contains a typical 5-vowel inventory: /a, e, i, o, u/. All vowels have long counterparts, and Kunza displays contrastive vowel length.[2]

Bilabial Alveolar Postalveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
plain ejective plain ejective plain ejective plain ejective plain ejective
Stop voiceless p t k q ʔ
voiced b
Affricate t͡s t͡ʃ t͡ʃʼ
Fricative voiceless s x χ h
voiced ɣ
Nasal m n
Approximant l j
Flap ɾ

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Kunza". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ "SAPhon – South American Phonological Inventories". linguistics.berkeley.edu. Retrieved 2018-07-18.

External links[edit]