Everything sounds better in Quechua

I’ll admit, I go to church mostly for weddings or funerals so I’m no expert but in my opinion church music is hit or miss nowadays. Mostly a lot of miss, especially in smaller churches. Did you know Elvis Presley much preferred singing gospel over country music or even rock ‘n roll? But nowadays gospel music in many American churches isn’t so great, if you ask me.

The other day we were in a small church in Cusco and the ceremony was nothing special but everything changed when the musicians started to sing in Quechua. When you’re in Cusco, sit in on a mass and listen for yourself. The Quechua songs can move you to tears.

A lot of Peruvian folk music is best enjoyed with a case of beer but IMHO Quechua music is a most beautiful sound: mysterious, romantic, strong and moving all at once.

A`ma nu-na nicho

Happy Monday! I don’t have a 9-to-5 job and I don’t have a commute so Monday mornings aren’t a big thing for me. In fact, I should admit I kind of like having the kids back in school on Mondays, I can sip my Peruvian coffee and quietly muse about work and life after a hard weekend of running around with the little munchkins.

But for those of you dreading Monday mornings at work I’ve got a handy Quechua word for you. Should someone at work ask you to do some useless thing that you don’t want to do this beautiful Monday morning, just reply:

A`ma nu-na nicho!

In Quechua: “I don’t want to”.

I don’t know if the spelling is correct because most Quechua speakers in Peru don’t read or write in Quechua, they only speak Quechua. I asked our maid – who’s fluent in Quechua – how to spell A`ma nu-na nicho but she doesn’t know. I don’t know if this is a throwback to the Inca culture, which did not have written word as we know it, rather, the Inca’s great understanding of architecture, math and astronomy was passed on in a system we call Quipu.

If using at work please be considerate and pick your battles because I wouldn’t want to be responsible for anybody’s firing. However if the time is right to tell someone that you can’t be bothered, kindly tell them A`ma nu-na nicho!

Quechua girl names

The most popular post on this blog remains “Looking for names of Inca princesses”, which I wrote when we first found out our baby was going to be a girl. We had already picked Brianna for the first name, but I wanted a native or Quechua name as well.

Since then I’ve learned a lot about Quechua girl names. My students made me a list of Quechua names:

  • Urpi (Dove)
  • Illary (Rainbow)
  • Tica (Flower)
  • Saywa
  • Illa
  • Killa
  • K’antu (the national flower of Peru)
  • Kusi
  • Mayu

Probably the most common Quechua girl name I’ve heard here in Cusco is Chaska. If you like names of famous people, you can choose Q’orianka, after Peruvian-American actress Q’orianka Kilcher. Site friend Amazilia posted this link to Quechua names in the comments of my “Looking for names of Inca princesses” post.

Patricia wanted to pick a unique name though, and found Nayaraq on this list of Quechua names. So we settled on “Brianna Nayaraq”.

Brianna Nayaraq

Brianna Nayaraq

Nayaraq means “who has many desires”. I hope she will grow up with the desire to make Peru an even better place.

I’m very happy we picked a name that will remind our daughter of her heritage as well as the great history and culture of Peru. Of course we also like the way it sounds, plus we can use “Naya” or “Yara” for a nickname 🙂

Google speaks Quechua

A lot can be said about the success of Google, how the company largely took over the lucrative internet search business from one-time internet darling Yahoo!, and many of Google’s other success stories are the stuff college case studies are made of.

Here in Peru I noticed one more reason why Google became so successful: Google speaks Quechua.

Quechua is a native Indian language spoken here in the Andes region, it is believed to date back well before the Incas’ time. Today Quechua is an official language in Peru, it is spoken by the native Indian, typically rural, population in both Peru and Bolivia.

Of course lots of websites are available in different languages, that in itself is not the point. But think about this quote from Umair Haque’s Smart Growth Manifesto:

“Outcomes, not income. Dumb growth is about incomes – are we richer today than we were yesterday? Smart growth is about people, and how much better or worse off they are – not merely how much junk an economy can churn out.”

The significance of Google’s Quechua site is that I can’t imagine Google sees any substantial revenue from it.

I don’t say this to put down the Quechua language, but simply because most of the native population who speak Quechua also speak Spanish, and they revert from one language to the other seamlessly, with Spanish typically spoken in the cities and used in business.

Cost/benefit is an entirely different concept from revenue/cost. Even though Google may not see much revenue from its Quechua site, thanks to Google lots of schoolkids in little towns all over Peru can read and search information in their native language.

I believe it’s well past time to stop managing companies like we did during the era of supply-side economics in the 20th century. In the 21st century, businesses will find opportunity when they do things because it’s the right thing to do, when the outcome is something you would be proud of.

Kids in rural Peru whose native language is Quechua learn Spanish in school.

Kids in rural Peru whose native language is Quechua learn Spanish in school.