Quechua Language: 10 Words You Should Know In The Beautiful Cusco Dialect

Quechua language

Importance of the Quechua Language in Cusco

When you travel to or decide to make Cusco your home, you are not merely exploring a city; you are embarking on a journey through time and culture. The ancient capital of the Inca Empire, Cusco, is a place where the past seamlessly blends with the present. Among the many aspects that make this city and its surroundings enchanting is Quechua—a linguistic treasure that resonates with the heartbeat of its people and history.

Quechua is more than just a language; it’s a connection to the Inca heritage, a bridge to the local people, and a window into the rich tapestry of Andean culture. With approximately 8-10 million speakers, Quechua holds the distinction of being the largest spoken indigenous language in the Americas. Its importance cannot be overstated, and its influence continues to grow, not just in Peru but worldwide.

In recent years, Quechua has been experiencing a resurgence in popularity, fueled by a renewed interest in indigenous cultures and traditions. Even Google has recognized its significance by adding Quechua to its translator, making it easier for travelers and language enthusiasts to delve into its beauty and depth.

In this blog series, we’ll take you on a linguistic journey through Cusco’s unique dialect of Quechua, highlighting 10 essential words or phrases in each post that will not only enhance your Andean experience but also bring you closer to the welcoming local community. Let’s start our exploration of this fascinating language, one word at a time.

Words of Today:

noun. Sun

Fun fact:
One intriguing fact about the Inca sun god, Inti, is that he was considered the most important deity in the Inca religion, representing not only the sun but also concepts of fertility and prosperity. The Inca rulers, who claimed to be descendants of Inti, believed that they held divine authority because of their connection to this powerful sun god.


noun. Moon

Fun fact: The town of Quillabamba, which lies 4 hours north of Cusco, gets its name from the Quechua words Killa (moon) and Pampa (used to describe the plains of South America south of the Amazon).


noun. House


noun. Water

Fun fact: Did you know that most of the water in Cusco comes from the lake of Piuray? The city gets about 42% of its water from Piuray, and 20 other smaller communities depend on the lake as well.


noun. Fire


noun. Woman


noun. Man


noun. Father


noun. Mother


noun. Festival

Fun fact: Inti Raymi, the Inca festival of the sun, was once banned by Spanish conquistadors but has since been revived, attracting crowds with its colorful celebrations in Cusco, Peru.

Pronunciation Guide

Consonant Sounds

H/h/Like the h in house
Y/j/Like the y in yes
K/k/Like the c in scar
Kh//Like the c in cat
K’//Like scar but with a restriction of air
L/l/Like the l in lamp
Ll/ʎ/Like the llio in billion
M/m/Like the m in map
N/n/Like the n in none
Ñ/ɲ/Like the ny in canyon
P/p/Like the p in spat
Ph//Like the p in pan
P’//Like spat but with a restriction of air
Similar to scat but deeper in the throat
Qh//Similar to cat but deeper in the throat
Q’//Similar to the /q/ sound but with a restriction of air
R/ɾ/Like the t in atom
S/s/Like the s in sun
Sh/ʃ/Like the sh in shave
T/t/Like the t in stunt
Th//Like the t in top
T’//Like top but with a restriction of air
Ch//Like the ch in match
Ch’/tʃʰ/Like the ch in church
W/w/Like the w in water
Alphabet according to the Ministry of Education of Peru

Vowel Sounds

A/æ/, /ɑ/1-Like the a in trap
2-Like the a in palm (before or after q)
I/ɪ/, /ɛ/1-Like the i in lip
2-Like the e in pet (before or after q)
U/ʊ/, /ɔ/1-Like the oo in hook
2-Like the o in more

If you are looking to further immerse yourself in indigenous Andean culture, consider these tours!: https://incaperutravel.com/trip/community-rural-tourism/

Part 2!: https://inkaperutravel.com/

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