Kawésqar language

Kawésqar (Qawasqar), also known as Alacaluf,[3] is a critically endangered language isolate spoken in southern Chile by the Kawésqar people. Originally part of a small family,[2] only the northern language remains. Only 7 speakers of the language remain, most of them on Wellington Island off the southwestern coast of Chile.[4]

Kawésqar, Qawasqar
Native toChile
RegionChannel Region, western Patagonia, Wellington Island off south Chilean coast, 49° south, with centre in Puerto Edén.
Ethnicity2,600 Alacaluf people (2002 census)[1]
Native speakers
12 (2006)[1]
  • Kawésqar
Language codes
ISO 639-3alc



Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid e o
Open æ a


Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal m n   ŋ    
Plosive p t t͡ɕ k q ʔ
Ejective t͡ɕʼ    
Fricative f s   x   h
Rhotic   r, ɾ        
Approximant w l j      


The alphabet in use has the following letters: a, æ, c, c', e, f, h, i, j, k, k', l, m, n, o, p, p', q, r, rr, s, t, t', u, w, x. However, differences are reported between dialects, and some sounds are not represented.

Morphology and syntax

Kawésqar has a complex system of grammatical tense, which includes a basic morphological contrast between future, present, immediate past, recent past, distant past, and mythological past events.

See also


  • Aguilera Faúndez, Oscar (1978). Léxico Kawesqar-Español, Español-Kawesqar. Boletín de filología (Universidad de Chile, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras) 29.
  • Aguilera Faúndez, Óscar (2001): Gramática de la lengua kawésqar. Temuco: Corporación de Desarrollo Indígena.
  • Clairis, Christos (1987): El qawasqar. Lingüística fueguina. Teoría y descripción. Valdivia: Universidad Austral de Chile [Anejo de Estudios Filológicos 12].
  • Pieter C. Muysken. 2004. The Languages of the Andes. Cambridge Language Surveys. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


  1. Kawésqar at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Qawasqar". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. Spelling variants include Kaweskar, Kawaskar, Qawashqar, Kaueskar and Alakaluf, Halakwulup, Halakwalip; other names include Tawókser, Aksanás/Aksana and Hekaine.
  4. "Endangered Languages Project". www.endangeredlanguages.com. Retrieved 2017-01-24.
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