A lang a day: What is Tehuelche or Aonikenk?

Ahunikenk, or Tehuelche (an exonym that Spanish and other languages use) is a language that is native to the Southern tip of Patagonia. Actually the word “Patagonia” may come from their language, from the word “Patagon” (need to verify), either refers to the language they speak or the land they lived on. Historically the Tehuelches were known for their massive stature, called “giants” by many, they were deemed “Patagon” by Magellan when he first spotted them in the 16th century. Ahunikenk has been declining for several hundred years now. The language is only spoken by one person today, but there have been massive amounts of resources compiled for this language, including a dictionary, which contains a ton of grammar notes. There have been tons of papers written on their culture, aspects of their grammar and language.

It forms part of the language group known as “Chonan”, to which Selk’nam (Ona) also belongs to, which is another, more known language which was revived by Keyuk Selk’nam, a young Chilean man of Selk’nam origin. The language has quite a few sounds similar to Selk’nam, but since we have not researched the connection between the two, the confirmation of the relation of these two languages cannot be determined by our independent analysis. The video provides a review of a couple resources and has a small text, which is a hunting chant.

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