Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

Native peoples > Yámana


Yaghan is one of the so-called Fuegian languages, along with Kawésqar and Selk’nam. They are mutually unintelligible and are believed to be language isolates, unrelated to each other. The last remaining speakers refer to their language as háusi kútə, and to the Spanish language as póla kútə.
The Yaghan vocabulary reflects the speakers’ extreme southern environment, and uses completely different words for concepts that in European languages would use a single noun and different qualifying adjectives. This is particularly notable for local plants and animals. For instance, the black conger eel and the red conger eel are known in Yaghan as tahkáfi/ and imahára/, respectively. A notable feature is the use of anglicisms—such as kofi (coffee) and móns (month)—which are used for items introduced in modern times.