Language Snapshots

Kawésqar (Chile) — Language Snapshot

  • Rodrigo Becerra


Kawésqar is a language isolate spoken in Puerto Edén, Wellington Island, in the southernmost region of Chile. Puerto Edén, only accessible by sea, is a small village with approximately 100 inhabitants, a minority of whom are Kawésqar. Kawésqar people were nomad canoeists in the past, but since 1936 their life style and subsistence strategies were changed by contact with the Chilean institutions. Over the last forty years a considerable amount of research has been carried out on the language, allowing access to a substantial body of data about both the language and the culture. These studies include brief dictionaries, translated traditional narratives, a pedagogical grammar, two teaching handbooks, and a sound archive. However, the number of speakers is critically low, while conversational communicative events remain mostly undocumented. 

Keywords: Puerto Edén, language isolate

How to Cite:

Becerra, R., (2019) “Kawésqar (Chile) — Language Snapshot”, Language Documentation and Description 16, 187-192. doi:

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Published on
31 Aug 2019
Peer Reviewed