Otavaleno Kichwa is part of the Quechua family of languages, evolved from the Quechua spread by the Incas throughout the Andes. For more information, and to hear some of the fascinating differences and similarities among these languages, visit The Sounds of the Andean Languages. Varieties of Kichwa differ throughout the Ecuadorian highlands and in Napo province, the one Amazonian region where it is spoken. As the bilingual education movement gained strength, leaders decided to standardize spelling throughout Ecuador (Kichwa Unificado, Shukyachiska Kichwa) in order to facilitate the making of educational materials and strengthen the unity of the movement. Hence the spelling Kichwa, rather than Quichua, which was usually preferred before. In the communities where we work, Kichwa is often mixed with Spanish, and the majority of people are bilingual. Mestizos in the communities often speak only Spanish, with a bit of Kichwa mixed in. Elders and young children sometimes speak only Kichwa, with some common Spanish words mixed in. There are also some Spanish phrases that have been transformed in Kichwa, such as “Dios le pague” (God pay you), which has become “Yusul pagui”, “pagui”, and “pai” in Kichwa usage. Indigenous cultural leaders and students sometimes speak a pure Kichwa, but most older community members speak a version with numerous Spanish influences. Speaking a few words of Kichwa when you arrive in one of the communities where we work will impress people and show them that you value their language and culture.