Lessons from a Quechua Strongwoman
Ideophony, Dialogue, and Perspective
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.