Re-discovering the Quechua adjective

  • 1 Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics


This article describes the adjective class in Quechua, countering many previous accounts of the language as a linguistic type with no adjective/noun distinction. It applies a set of common crosslinguistic criteria for distinguishing adjectives to data from several dialects of Ecuadorian Highland Quechua (EHQ), analyzing examples from a natural speech audio/video corpus, speaker intuitions of grammaticality, and controlled elicitation exercises. It is concluded that by virtually any standard Quechua shows clear evidence for a distinct class of attributive noun modifiers, and that in the future Quechua should not be considered a “flexible” noun/adjective language for the purposes of crosslinguistic comparison.

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Linguistic Typology publishes research on linguistic diversity and unity. It welcomes articles that report empirical findings about crosslinguistic variation, advance our understanding of the patterns of diversity, or refine typological methodology.