Software for Learning Basic Quechua
In late 2009 four products for learning basic Quechua appeared on the market. For a first view, try these screenshots of the iPhone version, or the full demo game from one of the CD-Rom versions. (On the latter, don’t mind the ‘gringa’ face and the iffy dubbing, the accent is a proper native one).
There are two options:
• For iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad. Quite snazzy, and pretty cheap.
• On a CD-Rom or USB stick for use on any computer. Pricey, but more.
UTalk Quechua is an app for the iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad. It is fun and. UTalk is just a more up-to-date, handier, swisher and above all much cheaper version of the Talk Now! product also available on CD-Rom or a USB stick. You can’t get the other three cd‑rom products for iPod, the company doesn’t make them yet, and probably won’t until 2012 or later. This has to be downloaded through an iTunes Store:
• US$9.99 from the iTunes Store USA
• £4.99 from the iTunes Store UK
Alternatively, you can run the slightly older but still fun software on any computer, using a CD-Rom or USB stick. These can be bought online direct from www.eurotalk.com. Unfortunately they are much more expensive than UTalk for the iPhone, but you do have a full four products you can progress a bit more with. (Delivery is free worldwide.)
Prices and links below are for Eurotalk’s USA shop site, but you can find other national sites through www.eurotalk.com:
• Talk More US$39.99, available only on cd-rom
• Talk the Talk US$39.99, available only on cd-rom
• Vocabulary Builder US$29.99
, available only on cd-rom
N.B.: this one is particularly aimed at children
As you can tell from the prices, these are a commercial venture, by an independent company (EuroTalk) with no link whatever to this website. I feature them because I feel they are generally innovative, helpful, and fun.
Do be realistic: these programmes do not take you particularly far, and there is very little grammar content, but they are certainly fun to use (for adults or children), excellent for learning native pronunciations, and basic words and phrases such as numbers, colours, greetings, shopping terms, and so on.
A few more details:
• Which Quechua? The Quechua taught is that of Cuzco in Peru. Despite some regional differences, it will also work well everywhere from the Ayacucho to Titicaca regions, and in all Quechua-speaking parts of Bolivia. It is pretty different to the Quechua of Ecuador and especially the highlands of Central Peru, though Quechua-speakers there will at least recognise many of the words and phrases.
• The spelling is modern standard Southern Quechua, using just three vowels. To help users of the older 5-vowel spelling, “learner’s dots” have been added under ụ and ị when they sound more like [o] and [e]. As you’ll notice, this is actually a very easy rule, it’s automatic wherever the letters ụ and ị appear near a q. The dots just help you get over any initial surprise and pick up the reflex faster.
These are not the only Quechua audio-visual materials around, but they are the only ones I know of that seem easy to get hold of.