Noun Composition in Mapudungun: Conceptual Patterns in the Naming of Places

Belén Villena Araya, Belén Villena Araya, Sabela Fernández-Silva, Sabela Fernández-Silva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study intended to identify which referent features are more frequently selected in the naming of the concept class of places and, in turn, determine which are the preferred conceptualizations in Mapudungun. This language is mainly spoken by Mapuche people in central and southern areas of Chile and in the Central-West area of Argentina. To identify the features of this conceptualization, a cognitive-semantic analysis of the conceptual patterns of 112 nominal compounds pertaining to the concept subclasses of natural places (intervened and non-intervened) and non-natural places (installations and territorial divisions) was conducted. Results show that, for non-intervened natural places, an entity present in the natural place is preferably selected in the name, whereas for intervened places, an agricultural activity or an animal associated to the place is preferably chosen. Concerning installations, the preferred conceptual pattern specifies, by means of the constituent ruka ‘house’, the man-made nature of the place. Regarding territorial divisions, the preferred naming pattern combines two place concepts. This information is crucial for the creation of neologisms in Mapudungun because it guarantees that newly formed lexical units are coherent with the Mapuche worldview and do not import foreign models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-466
Number of pages20
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Mapuche
  • Mapudungun
  • conceptual patterns
  • nominal compounds
  • noun formation


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