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Interview with Gladys Camacho Rios, Quechua language digital activist

Photograph shared by Gladys Camacho Rios.

In 2020, we continue our social media campaign by inviting different hosts to manage the @ActLenguas (Language Activism) Twitter account and share their experiences with the revitalization of and advocacy for native languages. This profile post is about Gladys Camacho Rios (@chhullunka) and what she plans to discuss during her week as a host.

Rising Voices (RV): Please tell us about yourself.

Mi nombre es Gladys Camacho Rios. Soy originalmente del pueblo de Kalallusta, Cochabamba, Bolivia. Nací y crecí en este pueblo, no solo tengo la dicha de haber heredado el Quechua que es mi primera lengua sino también he heredado practicas culturales y tradicionales coexistentes del Sur de Bolivia. Soy escritora Quechua, desde el 2011 he empezado a escribir. Quería preservar algunas tradiciones de mi pueblo.

En 2013 he publicado una novela en Quechua “Phuyup Yawar Waqaynin” (El llanto sangriento de una nube). En 2018 esta novela fue publicada en versión bilingüe Quechua-Inglés.

En 2019 he publicado un libro con tres cuentos del Zorro. Actualmente soy candidata a doctorado en Lingüística en la Universidad de Texas en Austin, EEUU. También me dedico al activismo, impulsando hablantes nativos con el mismo perfil que yo para ser escritores, revitalizadores e investigadores de sus lenguas indígenas.

También, co-organizé el primer Encuentro de Activismo Digital de Lenguas Indígenas que se llevó a cabo en la ciudad de Cochabamba en 2016.

My name is Gladys Camacho Rios. I am originally from the Kalallusta village in Cochabamba, Bolivia. I am blessed to have inherited my native language Quechua and the cultural and traditional practices from southern Bolivia. Since 2011 I have been writing in Quechua, with the aim to preserve the traditions of my people.

In 2013 I published a novel in Quechua titled “Phuyup Yawar Waqaynin” (“The cloud's bloody tears”). In 2018 this novel was published in a Quechua-English bilingual version.

In 2019 I published a book with three tales of Fox. I am currently a PhD candidate in Linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin, USA. I am also taking part in language activism, promoting native speakers like me who are writers and researchers revitalizing their indigenous languages.

Also, I co-organized the first Meeting of Indigenous Language Digital Activists ​​that took place in the city of Cochabamba in 2016.

RV: What is the current status of your language on the internet and offline?

Hay bastante información. El quechua del Sur de Bolivia no es uniforme. Hay una diferencia significante entre el Quechua monolingüe que tiene una morfología compleja completamente desarrollada y el Quechua bilingüe que tiene una morfología sinplificada debido al dominio del input español. La mayoría de la información en las redes sociales impulsa el Quechua bilingüe. Realizan un trabajo excelente, sin embargo, el Quechua monolingüe esta ausente. Y lamentablemente el Quechua monolingüe está en serio peligro de extinción porque no se está transmitiendo a futuras generaciones.

There is a lot of information. In southern Bolivia, Quechua language is not uniform. There is a significant difference between monolingual Quechua (that has a fully developed, complex morphology) and bilingual Quechua (that has a simplified morphology due to the Spanish influence). Most of the information on social media supports bilingual Quechua; however, monolingual Quechua is absent. And, unfortunately, monolingual Quechua is in serious danger of extinction because it is not being transmitted to future generations.

RV: On what topics do you plan to focus during the week that you’ll manage the @ActLenguas Twitter account?

Quiero promover el Quechua de una hablante L1 (lengua materna) que nació y creció en una comunidad del área rural ya que se aproxima bastante al Quechua monolingüe. También promover el quechua monolingüe. Desde el 2018 estoy documentando en audio y video el Quechua de los monolingües en Uma Piwra. He escrito 3 cuentos de lo que he recopilado. Quisiera compartir esos cuentos de alguna manera. También quisiera compartir los audios que he estado creando en Quechua para informar del covid-19. He creado un audio/video dirigido a abuelitos monolingües y otro para público en general que informa sobre salud mental, esto en colaboración con Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies de New York University y Columbia University & CUNY & Lehman College para un proyecto de capsulas en casi 20 lenguas indígenas del Abya Yala.

I want to promote Quechua as an L1 (mother tongue) as spoken by someone who was born and raised in a rural area community, as it is quite close to monolingual Quechua. I also want to promote monolingual Quechua. Since 2018, I have been audio/video documenting the Quechua of the monolinguals in Uma Piwra. I have written three stories based on what I have collected. I would like to share those stories in some way.

I would also like to share the audios that I have been creating in Quechua to report on the Covid-19. I have created an audio-video report on mental health for monolingual grandparents and another for the general public. This was done in collaboration with the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies of New York University and Columbia University, CUNY and Lehman College, for a capsule project in almost 20 indigenous languages of the Abya Yala.

RV: What are the main motivations for your digital activism, and your hopes for your language?

El quechua del sur de Bolivia con una morfología elaborada exhibe información invaluable: matices semánticos, informaciones adverbiales, espacio, afectividad. Mi meta es entender la estructura lingüística, sobretodo la semántica en la elaboración morfológica del verbo. De este modo enriquecer el Quechua boliviano. Creo y confió que mi trabajo como lingüista tendrá impactos amplios, en la sociedad, las metodologías de enseñanza tanto para profesores de Quechua y estudiantes.

Southern Bolivia Quechua has an elaborate morphology with invaluable information on semantic nuances, adverbials, space, affectivity. My goal is to understand the linguistic structure, especially the semantics in the morphological elaboration of the verb, and in this way to expand the use of Quechua language in Bolivia. I hope that my work as a linguist will have broad impacts on society and on teaching methodologies for both Quechua teachers and students.

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