Kichwa (Kichwa shimi, Runashimi, also SpanishQuichua) is a Quechuan language which includes all Quechua varieties of Ecuador and Colombia(Inga), as well as extensions into Peru, and is spoken by a million people. The most widely spoken dialects are Chimborazo and Imbabura Highland Kichwa, with one to two million and half a million to one million speakers, respectively. Cañar Highland Quecha has 100,000–200,000 speakers; the others in the range of ten to twenty thousand. Kichwa belongs to the Northern Quechua group of Quechua II (according to Alfredo Torero).
Kichwa syntax has undergone some grammatical simplification compared to Southern Quechua, perhaps due to partial creolization with the pre-Inca languages of Ecuador.
A standardized language with a unified orthography (Kichwa Unificado, Shukyachiska Kichwa) has been developed. It is similar to Chimborazo, less some of the phonological peculiarities of that dialect.
The earliest grammatical description of Kichwa was written in the 17th century by the Jesuit priest Hernando de Alcocer.
In contrast to other regional varieties of Quechua, Kichwa does not distinguish between original ("Proto Quechua") /k/ and /q/, which are both pronounced [k]. Therefore, [e] and [o], the allophones of the vowels /i/ and /u/ near /q/, do not exist, and kiru can mean both "tooth" (kiru in Southern Quechua) and "wood" (qiru[qero] in Southern Quechua), and killa can mean both "moon" (killa) and "lazy" (qilla[qeʎa]).
Additionally, Kichwa in both Ecuador and Colombia has lost possessive and bidirectional suffixes (i.e. verbal suffixes indicating both subject and object), as well as the distinction between the exclusive and inclusive first person plural.
Instead of yayayku / taytayku ("Our Father", the Lord's Prayer) Kichwa people say ñukanchik yaya / ñukanchik tayta.
In Kichwa, you do not say suyayki ("I wait for you"), but kanta shuyani.
On the other hand, other particularities of Quechua have been preserved. As in all varieties of Quechua, the words for 'brother' and 'sister' differ depending on whom they refer to. There are four different words for siblings: ñaña (sister of a woman), turi (brother of a woman), pani (sister of a man), and wawki (brother of a man). A woman reading "Ñuka wawki Pedromi kan" would therefore read aloud Ñuka turi Pedromi kan.
The missionary organization FEDEPI (2006) lists eight dialects of Quechua in Ecuador, which they illustrate with the clause "the men will come in two days". (Ethnologue 16 (2009) lists nine, distinguishing Cañar from Loja Highland Quechua.) Below are the comparisons, along with Standard (Ecuadorian) Kichwa and Standard (Southern) Quechua: