Structure dataset 73: Media Lengua

This language is described more fully in survey chapter 73.

Media Lengua, a mixed language with mostly Quechua syntax, morphology, phonology, and semantics and Spanish lexical shapes, is or was used in several distinct areas of Ecuador. My own research was mostly focused on the variety used outside of Salcedo (Cotopaxi) and this is the variety primarily cited in APiCS (the default lect). I have also discovered varieties spoken near Saraguro (Loja) and Cañar (Cañar). Subsequently, Jorge Gomez Rendón (Quito) and Jesse Stewart (Manitoba) have been exploring varieties of Media Lengua spoken mostly north of the capital Quito in the province of Imbabura which is referred to as the lect of Imbabura Media Lengua (data Gómez Rendón) in APiCS. Earlier reports suggest that Media Lengua was also spoken in Zámbiza, near Quito. It is hard to generalize across all these communities, but perhaps something like “indigenous Quechua speakers with frequent contacts with the Spanish-speaking world” comes closest. This description now holds for a great many indigenous highland people in Ecuador, and there may be varieties of Media Lengua so far unnoticed. Also speakers will not always openly acknowledge using Media Lengua. This makes it hard to give exact numbers of Media Lengua speakers. Media Lengua has not been reported outside of Ecuador, e.g. in the Peruvian or Bolivian highlands. However, forms of mixing resembling Media Lengua may be found there in special registers, e.g. bilingual songs. Also, Spanish loans with Quechua suffixes have been incorporated into Amazonian languages such as Cocama-Cocamilla, suggesting a possible earlier Media Lengua-like pidgin in the Upper Amazon basin.

No. Feature Value lect Details Source
No. Feature Value lect Details Source


Pulmonic Consonants
Place → Labial Coronal Dorsal Laryngeal
↓ Manner Bilabial Labio­dental Linguo­labial Dental Alveolar Palato-
Retroflex Alveolo-
Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal
/ Epiglottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Stop p  b t d c k  g
Sibilant affricate t͡s
Non-sibilant affricate
Sibilant fricative s z ʃ ʒ
Non-sibilant fricative ɸ x h
Approximant l j ʎ
Flap or tap
Trill r
Lateral affricate
Lateral fricative
Lateral approximant
Lateral flap


Front Near-front Central Near-back Back Close Near-close Close-mid Mid Open-mid Near-open Open ihigh front unrounded vowel uhigh back rounded vowel ehigher mid front unrounded vowel ohigher mid back rounded vowel alow central unrounded vowel

Special segments

Other segments
 w  voiced labial-velar glide


       Exists (as a major allophone)
       Exists only as a minor allophone
       Exists only in loanwords
No. Feature Value lect Details Source