Word Borrowing and Code Switching in Ancash Waynu Songs∗

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Language, Meaning, and Society
Volume 2 (2009)

Word Borrowing and Code Switching in Ancash Waynu Songs

Felix Julca-Guerrero
University of Texas at Austin


This paper presents a description and analysis of the processes of borrowing and code
switching in Ancash waynus, a genre of popular traditional Andean songs. Ancash waynus,
which are sung and played in the north-central Peruvian highlands, display different levels
in which Quechua and Spanish interact. Both Quechua and Spanish are used in various
ways, essentially to create special poetic and expressive-communicative effects. Although
previous research has focused on Spanish Quechua language interaction in everyday speech,
waynus also exhibit different kinds of bilingual language use, and are particularly rich in
lexical borrowings and code switching. In consequence, the diversity of linguistic resources
used in Ancash waynu songs offers us very rich material for a study of language contact
from grammatical, sociolinguistic, poetic, pragmatic, and socio-cultural perspectives. In this
case, our study of Ancash waynu songs from the perspective of language contact and
sociolinguistic implications mainly covers themes of lexical and structural borrowing, code
switching, and code mixing.

∗ I would like to thank Patience Epps for her helpful insights with this analysis. I would also like to thank Lev
Michael for all his comments and suggestions on the preliminary version. Likewise, special thanks are due to
Maria Luz Garcia for her help with proofreading this paper.

Language, Meaning, and Society
Volume 2 (2009)

Although Quechua language and culture have been studied from linguistic and socio-
historical perspectives, Ancash waynus have not yet been studied from language contact and
sociolinguistic perspectives. In order to address this research gap, I present a preliminary
study of Ancash waynu songs in the context of bilingual language use, covering processes of
borrowing, code switching, and code mixing. I will use data based on my own collection and
transcription of Ancash waynus from DVDs, CDs, and my own recordings of songs
performed during popular festivities in different parts of the Ancash region during the
summer 2006 and 2007.
This paper is organized in eight short sections. In section 1, I briefly contextualize
Ancash from sociolinguistic and socio-cultural perspectives. In section 2, I review basic
characteristics of waynus in general and Ancash Quechua waynus in particular. In section 3,
I describe the research methodology including data collection, selection criteria, and
analytical procedures. In section 4, I present general aspects of linguistic change and choice
in Ancash waynus. In section 5, I provide an overview of lexical and structural borrowing in
Ancash waynus. In section 6, I describe and analyze bilingual language use, which includes
code switching and code mixing in these songs. In section 7, I analyze sociocultural
implications of code switching and code mixing. Finally, in section 8, I present some
conclusions which include situations in which Ancash waynus, like everyday speech, show
different kinds of bilingual language use and reflect a general trend in language shift from
monolingualism in Quechua to bilingualism in Quechua and Spanish, and from that to
monolingualism in Spanish.

1. Sociolinguistic background

Language, Meaning, and Society
Volume 2 (2009)
The Department of Ancash is located in the north-central part of the Peruvian Andes.
In this region, as in most Andean cities and rural communities, the majority of the
population is bilingual in Quechua and Spanish. In the Ancash region, socio-cultural and
linguistic contact between Quechua and Spanish began with the Spanish invasion in 1533
(Alba 1996). That linguistic contact, from colonial times, through formal independence and
the republican period to the present day has given rise to the development of two
sociolinguistic situations: (1) mutual lexical and grammatical influence between Quechua
and Spanish, and (2) rising Quechua-Spanish bilingualism and ultimately monolingualism in
Spanish. Moreover, both consequences are represented not only in daily language use, but
also in other forms of language usage, such as songs, poems, riddles, and other Andean
Since the Spanish invasion, Quechua and Spanish have progressively come into a
diglossic situation1. Although the language contact has been of an asymmetrical nature, not
only has Spanish (dominant language) influenced Quechua (subordinate language), but
Quechua has also influenced Spanish at the lexical, phonological and grammatical levels.
Almost all rural communities of the Ancash region have gradually become bilingual in
Quechua and Spanish, and these communities show different levels of bilingualism such as
passive, subordinate, and relatively equilibrate (cf. Baker 2001). Hence, the bilingualism in
rural areas is not homogenous, and the percentage of bilingual people varies according to
age, gender, education, and in relation to location and distance of communities from the
provincial capital cities. In summary, long-term language contact between Quechua and

1 Diglossia refers to the unequal relationship between two varieties of the same language, in Ferguson’s (1959)
terms, or two different languages, according to Fishman (1967). In the case of the Ancash region, Spanish and
Quechua are in a diglossic relationship because they do not have the same value, status, functions, acquisition,
and literary heritage. Consequently, Quechua (subordinate language) and Spanish (dominant language) are in a
clear situation of inequality which has resulted in both the expansion of Spanish and the progressive
contraction of Quechua.


Language, Meaning, and Society
Volume 2 (2009)
Spanish has resulted in a number of linguistic and social consequences such as: lexical and
structural borrowing, process of transference or interference, code-mixing, and code-

From socio-cultural perspective, the Andean cultural complex2 is one of the most
geographically expansive and diverse cultural systems of the Americas. The Quechua people
established basic cultural principles such as reciprocity, complementarianism3, equality, and
practice of social values founded in the laws ama qilla (do not be lazy), ama llulla (do not
lie), and ama suwa (do not steal). Although Spanish colonists wanted to destroy the
Quechua culture, it remains vital in the rural communities of the Ancash region (Julca-
Guerrero 2004, 2006, 2007a). In these communities, indigenous people have continued
distinctive Quechua cultural practices including songs, riddles, stories, and dances.4

2. Ancash waynu songs

The most popular traditional song genre in the Andes is the waynu or wayñu, which is
a combination of popular Andean poems and traditional rural music. According to Rosales
(1991), the Ancash waynu consists of poems, which are usually sung and accompanied with
music. Over time, the waynu has been adopted by mestizos (mixed race Spanish-Indigenous)
living in the highlands. The waynu forms a pervasive feature of Andean popular culture and
is very much part of the cultural richness that migrants from rural areas bring to large cities
such as Huaraz, Chimbote, Trujillo, and Lima. Waynus often deal with themes of romantic

2 In the Andes, historically, different indigenous cultures have developed, such as Quechua, Aymara, Jaqaru,
Puquina, and Culli.
3 In the Andean cultures, ‘complementarism’ means that all things are connected with others, so women is a
complement of men, and night is a complement of day.
4 According to Ong (2003: 33), “in an oral culture, restriction of words to sound determines not only modes of
expression but also thought process.” Thus, Quechua as an oral culture has produced powerful and beautiful
verbal performances of high artistic and human worth, which are no longer even possible once writing has
taken possession of the psyche.

Language, Meaning, and Society
Volume 2 (2009)
love, including romantic disappointment, loneliness, reciprocity, suffering, happiness,
bitterness, eroticism, and infidelity. They also concern local Andean events and religious
Ancash waynu involves an enormous thematic spectrum which is created with special
stylistic resources based on sonorous and idiomatic forms. Ancash waynus have poetic
structure and are composed using different figures of speech and other poetic language
usage. Thus in waynus, we can easily find a combination of different figures of speech
(metaphor, simile, anaphora, reduplication, parallelism, conversion, hyperbole and
onomatopoeia), recurrence (rhyme, meter, alliteration), and the use of Quechua and Spanish
in different ways. Likewise, Ancash waynu includes some elements of social, cultural, and
geographic universes (Julca and Smith 2007). Waynu utilizes a distinctive rhythm, in which
the first beat is stressed and followed by two short beats (Rosales op.cit.). These lyrics are
played on string instruments introduced by the Spanish, such as the harp, guitar, and
mandolin, and/or on the traditional Andean instruments such as pinkullu, charanku, and
Some of Ancash waynu songs are anonymous while others have known authors. Most
authors of waynus are amateur musicians and singers. Due to oral tradition of indigenous
languages as Quechua, waynus have usually been transmitted orally from generation to
generation. However, in recent years, with the incorporation of new technology, they have
begun to appear in cassette, CD, and DVD compilations. Waynu songs are sung and played
both in urban and rural areas. There are local radio stations which transmit waynu songs
every morning. These radio stations have large audiences in rural communities and in the
Andean cities among Quechua migrants. Moreover, it is common to observe children and

Language, Meaning, and Society
Volume 2 (2009)
young people, especially women, singing waynu songs while they carry out their daily
waynu uses a number of linguistic resources. The main aspects
are connected with monologues and dialogues, the use of poetic and expressive functions of
language, bilingual language use, process of lexical and structural borrowing, code-mixing,
and code-switching. Due to the more intensive appeal to the poetic and expressive functions
of language, a variety of linguistic resources are used in Ancash waynu songs. Thus, more
than in natural everyday discourse, Ancash waynus offer us very rich material for a study
from grammatical, sociolinguistic, verbal art, linguistic anthropological, and sociocultural
perspectives. In this case, our study of Ancash waynu songs from a language contact
perspective focuses mainly on lexical and structural borrowings, code switching, and code

3. Research methodology

For the research project this paper is based on, I collected Ancash waynu songs mainly
from DVDs and CDs during the summers of 2006 and 2007. In five provinces of the
Huaylas Valley (Recuay, Huaraz, Carhuaz, Yungay, and Huaylas), I asked musicians,
singers, poets, and others (45 people in total) about the most popular Ancash waynu songs.
As all of these musicians perform waynu songs, I collected around 195 titles of Ancash
waynu songs, including waynus in Quechua, in Spanish, and in both Quechua and Spanish.
Of the 195 waynu titles, 125 were cited as especially popular by two or more participants.

After that, I looked at waynu songs (125) mainly in DVDs and CDs. They were
complemented with some waynu songs recorded from local radio stations which transmit
waynu songs every morning between 4:00 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. Moreover, I added to this

Language, Meaning, and Society
Volume 2 (2009)
collection my own recordings made in communal social festivities from popular Andean
orchestras (Revelacion Andina, Costa Azul de Pira, Las Trompetas Huaracinas, and Los
Hermanos Caushi) and vernacular singers such as Juan Rosales, Pepe Minaya, Jorge Peje,
Azucena Cantarina, and Chinita Cordillerana.
waynu songs (125) were transcribed personally by me, and then my
transcriptions were contrasted with Ancash waynu songs collected in a book by the poet and
folklorist Efrain Rosales (1991). In general, my own collection and Rosales’ collection were
almost the same in relation to texts, stanzas, and verses. The main difference was in the
alphabetic writing. While Rosales transcribes all Ancash waynu songs with Spanish
alphabet, I transcribe Quechua waynus with the Quechua alphabet and Spanish waynus with
Spanish alphabet. Thus, in this work all examples of waynus appear from my own

The following step was to select the most representative Ancash waynu songs which
exhibit different kind of bilingual language use, different processes of borrowing, code
switching, and code mixing. Among all waynu songs collected (125), 12 have Quechua as
the matrix language, 49 are bilingual composed in Quechua and Spanish, and 64 have
Spanish as the matrix language. Among these, I have chosen the most representative parts of
songs from each subcategory. Moreover, in all these cases, I have used italics and bold to
denote parts of the song that are in Quechua versus Spanish.

In the process of analysis, I categorize each piece of waynu song for lexical and
grammatical borrowing, and for code switching and code mixing. In distinguish borrowing
from code switching, borrowing from code mixing, code switching from code mixing, and
all of these from other language contact phenomena, I follow the work of Poplack and

Language, Meaning, and Society
Volume 2 (2009)
Sankoff (1984), Thomason and Kaufman (1988), Muysken (1990), Auer (1995), Sridhar
(1996), Lee and Hornberger (1996), Gardner-Chloros (1997), Coupland and Jaworski
(1997), Campbell (1998), Winford (2003), Haspelmath (2003), and others. Likewise, for the
sociocultural implications of different kinds of language use (such as code switching and
code mixing) I have based my analysis mainly on Fishman (1972) and Mayers-Scotton

4. Language choice in Ancash waynu songs

Although the majority of the Andean population is now bilingual, in the Ancash region
we still find songs composed only in Quechua as well others in Spanish, and others in both
languages. Language use in Ancash waynu songs is varied. Currently, there are only a few
songs solely in Quechua, and they have been composed mainly in past decades and
centuries. In recent decades, most waynus are composed in Spanish, and in both Quechua
and Spanish waynus, there is evidence of influences from Spanish to Quechua and vice
versa. Moreover, there are Ancash waynu songs in which Quechua and Spanish are
intermingled with each other. The use of both Quechua and Spanish is distributed in some
cases within a sentence, in others between sentences, and in others between couplets and
stanzas. Our data exhibits that the majority of waynus are composed in Spanish, and a
slightly smaller percentage are composed in both Spanish and Quechua. Monolingual
Quechua waynus are very rare. Consequently, we conclude that waynus reflect the
directionality of language shift from monolingualism in Quechua > bilingualism in Quechua
and Spanish > monolingualism in Spanish.5

5 The single angular bracket ‘>’ means the preceding form is followed by the next.

Language, Meaning, and Society
Volume 2 (2009)

Quechua is one the native languages of the Andes and is the language of identity of the
indigenous population of Ancash. In older, anonymous waynus we find the monolingual use
of Quechua in songs. However, more contemporary waynus usually exhibit some degree of
lexical borrowing, code switching, and language mixing. For example, similar to our data, in
the most recent and complete book Antología de la Poesía Popular Ancashina ‘Anthology
of Ancash Popular Poem’ (Rosales 1991), of the 278 waynu songs collected, there are only
16 waynu exclusively in Quechua, 104 in both Quechua and Spanish, and 148 solely in
Spanish. Thus, parallel to daily language use, Ancash waynus show evidence that Quechua
is losing ground to Spanish. The following example illustrates the use of Quechua in waynu:

(1) Habaspis waytanshi

‘They say that the broad bean grows


tsaytsuraq nuqa kuyaaman

so, why can I not love

ishkaqta, kimaqta.

two or three (women).


They say that the river lives

Lamarchaw vidanta,

its life in the sea,

so, why cannot I live

Chiinapa wayinchaw.

in my girlfriend’s house.’


Community members who are bilingual in Quechua and Spanish and monolingual
Spanish speakers consider songs like (1) to be Quechua songs. Some of them even affirm
that these kinds of songs are “pure Quechua.”6 If we look carefully, we can identify some
Spanish influence on the Quechua in this piece. For example, there are some Spanish

6 Through time both languages, Quechua and Spanish, could not be “chemically” pure, because they have
mutually influenced each other. However, in Ancash highlands, there is a generalized belief that rural
communities, basically those located far from the cities, are exclusively monolingual in Quechua. Some people
even think that in these places, community members, especially elders and those who are illiterate, speak “pure
Quechua.” Likewise, community members describe themselves as Quechua monolinguals. However, in
previous studies I have demonstrated that completely monolingual communities do not exist (see Julca-
Guerrero 2007b, c). In this sense, our data of waynu songs even show different levels of Spanish influence on
Quechua, and different levels of bilingualism.

Language, Meaning, and Society
Volume 2 (2009)
loanwords: habas ‘broad bean,’ pasa ‘to pass,’ la mar ‘the sea,’ and vida ‘life.’ These
loanwords are adapted to Quechua phonology and morphology (see section 5), which is
typical of the Quechua spoken in the Ancash region. This characteristic is reflected not only
in natural daily speech, but also in other kinds of language uses such as waynu songs.

In the case of Spanish, this is not a standard or formal variety, but it is a vernacular
Quechuafied Andean Spanish variety, which incorporates phonetic, phonological,
grammatical, and lexical elements of Quechua. As Asturias says, it is “un Español ‘preñado’
por el Quechua, a través de fenómenos de interferencias y préstamos” (“Spanish
‘impregnated’ by Quechua through interference and borrowing phenomena”). The important
thing is that this contemporary variety is useful for Andean people for more naturally
expressing their experiences, collective memories, pains, humor, wishes, and hopes.

(2) Este mi corazón

‘My heart

ya no es corazón

is no longer my heart

de puro sentimiento

due to being unhappy
washku nomás…
I want drink alcohol…’

(Washku nomás, Anonymous)

In this brief extract, we see the use of two lexical items from regional Andean Spanish:
puro and washku. In Andean Spanish spoken in Ancash region, the use of the word puro is
broadly extended, while in other Spanish dialects, speakers use the word tanto to express ‘so
much.’ Likewise, the use of the Quechua word washku is generalized. It is used as a Spanish
word which refers to a kind of Andean liquor. In the following sections we will analyze
more exhaustively the process of lexical borrowing, incorporation, and accommodation of
different elements from source language to recipient language. Depending on the specific
situation of language use, either Quechua or Spanish can be the source or the recipient