Sechura language

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Native toPeru
RegionPiura Region
Extinctlate 19th century?[1]
  • Sek?
    • Sechura
Language codes
ISO 639-3None (mis)

The Sechura language, also known as Sek, is an extinct language spoken in the Piura Region of Peru, near the port of Sechura. It appears to have become extinct by the beginning of the 20th century.[1] The only documentation is that of an 1863 wordlist by Richard Spruce,[3] as well as a word list by Bishop Martínez Compañón (1782-1790).[4]


Sechura is too poorly known to be definitively classified. Kaufman notes that a connection between Sechura and the Catacaoan languages is likely and is supported by lexical evidence.[5]

Sek family

Rivet groups Sechura and Tallán together under the same Sek when he compares them to the Catacaoan languages.[6] In comparing wordlists from Sechura and Tallán, Torero finds six likely cognates between the two:[7]

Tallán Sechura
water xoto tujut river
son/daughter ños-ma ños-ñi son/daughter
light yura yoro sun
beach coyu roro roro sea
woman cucatama cuctum woman
fish xuma jum fish

However, Glottolog says the data is not compelling.


Martínez Compañón (1782-1790)

Below are sample Sechura words from a manuscript (currently held in Madrid by Bishop Martínez Compañón (1782-1790).[4] There is another copy of the manuscript currently held in Bogotá, which Urban (2019) considers to be less reliable and not the original.[8]

gloss Sechura
‘man’ succla; sucda (?)
‘heart’ chusiopunma
‘father’ jàchi
‘sister’ bapueñi
‘moon’ ñangru
‘trunk’ fucù
‘grass’ unñiòcòl
‘rain’ purir

Spruce (1863)

Below is Richard Spruce's 1863 Sechura word list as transcribed by Matthias Urban (2015).[9] Some transcriptions are uncertain, with alternative transcriptions following semicolons.

gloss Sechura
‘man’ recla
‘woman’ cucatama
‘son or daughter’ ñosma
‘dog’ tono
‘hawk’ kilkil
‘serpent’ kon’mpar
‘lizard’ ludac
‘fish’ xuma
‘head’ teuma
‘stomach’ puesa
‘foot’ lava
‘eye’ uchi
‘nose’ chuna
‘mouth’ collo
‘hearing’ tapa; fapa
‘water’ xoto
‘light’ yura
‘maize’ llumash
‘sweet potato’ chapru
‘road’ yuvirma
‘come here!’ xoroc tima; xoroc tema
‘be quiet!’ neshi
‘come along’ uchan; uchau
‘no’ shushca
‘turkey, buzzard’ roncho
‘beach’ coyu roro
‘cotton’ sono; suno
‘devil’ ñash
‘good day’ amatioo
‘how are you?’ ubruncuma
‘face’ re
‘sea’ taholma
‘pot’ pillacala
‘father in law’ ratichma; rutichma
‘mother in law’ naminma
‘where is your husband?’ xamanmi recla
‘here it is’ cha


  1. ^ a b Adelaar, Willem F. H.; Pieter C. Muysken (2004). The Languages of the Andes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 398–401. ISBN 0-521-36275-X.
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Sechuran". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Campbell, Lyle. 2018. Language Isolates. New York: Routledge.
  4. ^ a b Martínez Compañón, Baltasar Jaime. 1985 [1782-1790]. Trujillo del Perú en el siglo XVIII, vol. 2. Madrid: Ediciones Cultura Hispánica.
  5. ^ Kaufman, Terrence (1990). "Language history in South America: What we know and how to know more". In Payne, D.L. (ed.). Amazonian linguistics: Studies in lowland South American languages. Austin: University of Texas Press. pp. 13–67. ISBN 0-292-70414-3.
  6. ^ Rivet, Paul (1949). "Les langues de l'ancien diocèse de Trujillo". Journal de la Société des Américanistes de Paris (in French). Paris. 38: 1–51.
  7. ^ Torero Fernández de Córdova, Alfredo A. (1986). "Deslindes lingüísticos en la costa norte peruana". Revista Andina (in Spanish). Cuzco: Centro Bartolomé de Las Casas. 4: 523–48.
  8. ^ Urban, Matthias. 2019. Lost languages of the Peruvian North Coast. Estudios Indiana 12. Berlin: Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut (Preußischer Kulturbesitz) & Gebr. Mann Verlag.
  9. ^ Urban, Matthias (2015). El vocabulario sechurano de Richard Spruce. Lexis Vol. 39(2): 395-413.
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