As the country’s largest indigenous group, the Mapuche people continue to have an enormous impact on Chilean culture. According to the 2002 census, there are over 600,000 Mapuche living in Chile and linguists estimate that somewhere between 200,000 and 400,000 of them still speak their native language, Mapudungun.
Mapudungun is on the rise in the Mapuche heartland, with classes now being taught at schools throughout the Biobío, Araucanía and Los Lagos Regions. And anyone who travels in the these parts of Chile is likely to come across somebody who is more than willing to share a phrase or two from the local language.
Here, This is Chile shares some common phrases in Mapudungun, along with a basic guide to counting in the Mapuche language. (And don’t miss our list of traditional Mapudungun sayings.)
The common greeting phrase in Mapudungun is “Mari mari”. It is used at all times of the day but it is important need to add another phrase after the greeting, depending on who you are addressing.
Hello to a group of people: Mari mari kom pu che
Hello among men: Mari mari penyi
Hello among women or if a woman speaks to a man: Mari Mari lamnchnen
Hello to a group of children: Mari mari pichi keche
When saying goodbye to Mapuche people, it is a good idea to show your appreciation and to pass on your regards to the family or community who were your hosts. The common phrase used to say goodbye is Pewkayal.
Goodbye to a group of people: Pewkayal kom pu che
Goodbye among men: Pewkayal penyi
Goodbye among women or if a woman speaks to a man: Pewkayal lamnchnen
Goodbye to a group of children: Pewkayal pichi keche
Thank you and goodbye: Pewkayal chaltumay
Give my regards to your family: Lemorria tamy lof