You may know that Spanish is an official language of Peru, but it’s actually just one of the many languages spoken in the country. All of Peru’s indigenous languages are considered to be official languages. Quechua is by far the most commonly spoken language after Spanish, but Peru is also home to more than ninety other indigenous languages. In restaurants, stores, and hotels that cater primarily to tourists, you’ll also find that English is spoken and understood at least to some degree.
Even if you speak Spanish yourself, you may have trouble communicating in some regions of Peru. It can be difficult to understand the dialects spoken in certain areas, and likewise, locals may not understand your particular Spanish dialect.
In addition, while some form of Spanish is spoken in most major cities and towns, the same is not true in the Peruvian countryside, particularly in the highlands. In rural regions of Peru, people often only speak their native Quechua. The principal language of the Incan Empire, Quechua managed to endure through the Spanish invasion in the 16th century. There are over four million Quechua speakers in Peru today.
If you’re planning to visit more remote areas, you might want to consider a guide who speaks Spanish and Quechua. It’s also a good idea to carry a simple phrase book in case you have a problem expressing yourself in a particular situation. Here are two basic Quechua expressions to get you started:
Rimaykullayki – Hello (general greeting)
¿Allillanchu? – How are you?
Not so easy it is? Wherever your travels may take you, enjoy these beautiful languages for what they are, even practice before making your trip, learn new ways of expression and go back home with a more profound meaning of travel. – All the means to celebrate your deeper understanding of other cultures and languages.