Chile

Spanish is the most widely spoken language in Chile, particularly the variant of Spanish called Chilean Spanish. This is a dialect of Spanish that is significantly different from the Castilian variant of Spanish, albeit similar in pronunciation to the Andalusian Spanish. Around 14 million Chilean people speak this language. Apart from Spanish, there are also several other indigenous and immigrant languages that are spoken in the country.

Native language which can be found in Chile include Mapudungun, Quechua, Rapa Nui, Huilliche, Central Aymará and Kawésqar. Mapudungun is spoken mainly in south-central Chile, with about 114,000 of the 700,000 Mapuche people living in Chile who speak this language. Quechua is spoken by about 8,200 Chileans living in the northeast high plains of Chile. They speak Chilean Quechua, which is believed to be highly intelligible with South Bolivian Quechua. Rapa Nui is a Polynesian language spoken by about 3,200 Chileans living on Eastern Island as well as 200 living on the mainland. Huilliche, also known as Chesungun, only had about 2,000 – mostly elderly – speakers back in 1982. It is possible that the language is completely extinct by now. Central Aymará is spoken by the Aymara people who live in parts of northern Chile by about 935 speakers. Kawésqar is a critically endangered language spoken by the Kawésqar people in southern Chile. There are only about 7 speakers of this language, most of who live on the Chilean island of Wellington Island.

Several indigenous languages of Chile have gone extinct over the years, such as Selk’nam, Kakauhua, Kunza, and Diaguita.

Most popular foreign languages spoken in Chile include German and English. German was once spoken by a large percentage of the Chilean population, with about 150,000 to 200,000 Chileans being of some degree of German descent. Since the Second World War ended, however, the population of German-speaking Chileans has fallen considerably. Currently, German is spoken by about 20,000 who speak it as their first language. Most of them inhabit the Los Lagos and Los Ríos regions of Chile. English is spoken by a large section of the Chilean population, particularly those among the higher socio-economic classes. There are also several British English schools also operate within the country.

The hard-of-hearing community in Chile uses Chilean Sign Language. There are an estimated 16,000 users of CSL in the country.

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