Chono language

Chono is a poorly attested extinct language of confusing classification. It is attested primarily from an 18th-century catechism,[2] which is not translated into Spanish.

Native toChile
RegionChonos Archipelago, Chiloé Archipelago
EthnicityChono people
Language codes
ISO 639-3None (mis)

There are various placenames in Chiloé Archipelago with Chono etymologies despite the main indigenous language of the archipelago at the arrival of the Spanish being veliche.[3]


Grondona & Campbell (2012) conclude that the language called Chono or Wayteka or Wurk-wur-we by Llaras Samitier (1967) is spurious, with the source material being a list of mixed and perhaps invented vocabulary.[4]

Viegas Barros, who postulates a relationship between Kawesqar and Yaghan, believes that 45% of the Chono vocabulary and grammatical forms correspond to one of those languages, though it is not close to either.[5]

Glottolog concludes that "There are lexical parallels with Mapuche as well as Qawesqar, ... but the core is clearly unrelated." They characterize Chono as a "language isolate", which corresponds to an unclassified language in other classifications.


  1. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Chono". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. Doctrina para los viejos chonos (published in Bausani 1975)
  3. Ibar Bruce, Jorge (1960). "Ensayo sobre los indios Chonos e interpretación de sus toponimías". Anales de la Universidad de Chile (in Spanish). 117: 61–70.
  4. Grondona & Campbell (2012) The Indigenous Languages of South America: A Comprehensive Guide, pp 133–134
  5. Adelaar & Muysken, 2005. The languages of the Andes
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