Within the broader framework of the Sound Comparisons research theme, this was a specific project to document and quantify the degree of divergence in phonetics of the major language families of the Andes. Initially it focused on Quechua and Aymara, but is now being progressively extended, adding a denser geographical coverage of both those families, plus the independent Chipaya lineage. Above all, a major new component was an especially detailed database of dialectal variation in phonetics across the Mapudungun-speaking (‘Mapuche’) regions of Patagonia, in both Chile and Argentina. This component relies particularly on collaboration with Dr Scott Sadowsky, a phonetician at the Universidad de la Frontera in Temuco, who joined the project in 2012.
The underlying database of recordings and transcriptions was hosted at www.quechua.org.uk. One of its particular aims was to support understanding and uptake of the unified Quechua spelling system, hitherto frustrated by lack of public awareness among speakers themselves of the real regional variation that it serves to cover.