World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Languages of Chile

Article Id: WHEBN0008156026
Reproduction Date:

Title: Languages of Chile  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Languages of Chile, Languages of South America, Ona language, Huilliche language, Mapuche language
Collection: Languages of Chile
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Languages of Chile

A Mapuche woman in traditional dress

The Republic of Chile is an overwhelmingly Spanish-speaking country, with the exceptions of isolated native and immigrant communities. According to Ethnologue, Chile has nine living languages and seven extinct.[1]


  • Spanish 1
  • Native languages 2
    • Mapudungun 2.1
    • Quechua 2.2
    • Rapa Nui 2.3
    • Huilliche 2.4
    • Other 2.5
    • Extinct languages 2.6
  • German 3
  • English 4
  • Chilean Sign Language 5
  • Notes 6
  • External links 7


Of the 16 million Chileans, some 14 million speak Chilean Spanish as their first language.[1] It is a Spanish dialect which is sometimes difficult for speakers of the Castilian variant of Spanish to understand. It is very similar to Andalusian Spanish in pronunciation but it does have a lot of local slang.

Native languages


There are some 700,000 Mapuche living in Chile, of whom 200,000 speak Mapudungun.[1]


Chilean Quechua has 8,200 speakers in the far northeast high plains. It is believed to possibly be identical to South Bolivian Quechua or at the very least highly intelligible with it.[1]

Rapa Nui

Rapa Nui, the Polynesian language of Easter Island, is spoken by some 3,400 Chileans, whereof 3,200 live on Easter Island and some 200 live on the mainland.[1]


  • Huilliche or Chesungun had 2,000 speakers in 1982, living in the Los Ríos and Los Lagos regions. As most of those speakers were elderly, it is uncertain if there are any existing speakers today.[1]


Extinct languages

Some indigenous languages of Chile now extinct are Diaguita, Kakauhua, Kunza and Selknam.[1]


Although it is estimated that 150,000 to 200,000 Chileans have some German ancestry, the number who speak German has been in decline since the end of World War II. In the 1980s it was estimated that some 35,000 German Chileans spoke German,[1] but today it is spoken only by some 20,000, most of them living in Los Lagos Region.[3]


Large numbers of Chileans, especially those from higher levels of socio-economic classes speak or understand English to some degree. British English schools are common and some have long histories that derive from English migrants in the 19th century.

Chilean Sign Language

According to the World Federation of the Deaf 2008 survey report for South America, Chile's official number of deaf citizens is 66,500.[4] The number who master Chilean Sign Language is uncertain, but if it follows the general norm of one in four deaf persons having learnt sign language, the number of sign language users in Chile should be around 16,000.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Chile profile, Ethnologue, retrieved 2010-10-14
  2. ^ "It's the End of the World as We Know It". Travel Blog. 2008-10-27. Retrieved 2009-06-09. 
  3. ^ Oliver Zöllner: Generating Samples of Diasporic Minority Populations: A Chilean Example
  4. ^ WFD Global Survey Report for South America 2008

External links

  • Ethnologue: Chile
  • Chilean Slang… from A to Z - This is Chile
  • Chilean Expressions - This is Chile
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.