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language of the Indian tribes known as the Aymara, prevalent mainly in the southern part of the department of Puno, Peru, and in the departments of La Paz and Oruro, Bolivia. It is used concurrently with the official language, Spanish. Approximately 1.3 million people speak Aymara (1964).
Before the colonization of South America by the Spaniards in the 16th century, the Aymara language included more than 40 dialects and was different from its contemporary form. There are few ancient literary monuments in the Aymara language—they are fragments of poetic works, dedicated to the cult of the earth and sun. Missionaries have disseminated translations of the Bible, prayers, and sermons in the Aymara language. In 1900 an academy was founded in La Paz for the study of the language and history of the Aymara, and in 1901 it began to issue a monthly bulletin, which later ceased to appear on a regular basis.
WORKSGómez, B. Catecismo de la lengua aymará del Perú. Lima, 1583.
Apuntes para un catálogo de escritores de lenguas indígenas de América. Mexico, 1860.
Middendorf, E. W. Die Aymara-Sprachen. Leipzig, 1891.
Wissler, C. The American Indian, 3rd ed. New York, 1950.