Using the intriguing stories and words of a Quechua-speaking woman named Luisa Cadena from the Pastaza Province of Ecuador, Janis B. Nuckolls reveals a complex language system in which ideophony,
dialogue, and perspective are all at the core of cultural and grammatical communications among Amazonian Quechua speakers.
Nuckolls shows through detailed data analysis how much the scholarly community still has left to learn. The materials are very rich, and the narratives themselves, effectively translated by the author, emerge as works of art in their own right.
—Michael Uzendoski, author of The Napo Runa of Amazonian Ecuador
This book is a fascinating look at ideophones—words that
communicate succinctly through imitative sound qualities. They are at the core of Quechua speakers' discourse—both linguistic and cultural—because they allow agency and reaction to substances and
entities as well as beings. Nuckolls shows that Luisa Cadena's utterances give every individual, major or minor, a voice in her narrative. Sometimes as subtle as a barely felt movement or
unintelligible sound, the language supports an amazingly wide variety of voices.
Cadena's narratives and commentaries on everyday events reveal that sound imitation through ideophones,
representations of dialogues between humans and nonhumans, and grammatical distinctions between a speaking self and an other are all part of a language system that allows for the possibility of shared
affects, intentions, moral values, and meaningful, communicative interactions between humans and nonhumans.