mayan languages


In a country where about 40 percent of people self identify as indigenous, the National Indigenous Queen of Guatemala contest carries great prestige. In contrast to mainstream beauty pageants, the contestants for the Rabin Ajaw title, aged 14 to 26, have to demonstrate proficiency in their native language, Mayan traditions and worldview; awareness about mining and other threats to Mayan livelihood and resources; a nuanced view of gender roles; and leadership in their community.

The 19th century style Afghani wooden box camera used by the photographer meant that the women had to sit still for several minutes gazing into the camera, enabling a depth of engagement rarely achieved with today’s hectic technology.

Photographer: Rodrigo Abd

“A lot of Spanish speaking indigenous people of Mexico always tend to say to me, "I see you writing & speaking Nahuatl. I wish I spoke, Nahuatl, too!”
But what they don’t know is that MOST of us, more so us that were raised in pueblos, ejidos, little villages, we already speak Nahuatl, at least a large list of words we use daily are actually Nahuatl words. 
What happened is that when the Spaniards forced our ancestors to speak Spanish (or Castellano/Castilian), and prohibited us from speaking Zapotec, Mixtli, Nahuatl, Maya, etc., our people had no choice, as captives, but to speak Spanish, but in secret they still spoke their indigenous tongue among each other.
Our ancestors believed that it was very important to speak our tongue (regardless what tongue it is, as long as it’s indigenous to you) and that is why they continued speaking it, even if with time it watered down some, the fact remains that our ancestors passed it on.
A lot of us that were born, and raised in, or by parents raised in villages, pueblitos, ejidos, we are speaking Nahuatl meanwhile we speak Spanish. 
Don’t believe me? I’m going to write down a few words for you in Nahuatl, and you’ll be shocked as to how you thought you were speaking Spanish, but in reality you were speaking Nahuatl:

Aguacate - Ahuacatl
Camote - Camotli
Chayote - Chayotli
Chapopote - Chapopotli
Chipotli - Xipotli
Coyote - Coyotl
Atole - Atolli
Cacahuate - Tlacucahuatl 
Elote -Elotl
Huarache - Kwarachi
Jicama - Xicamatl
Mescal - Mexcalli
Guajolote - Wuehxolotl
Comal - Comalli
Chiquito - Tzitz Quit (pronounced Chiqui)
Mecate - Mecatl
Popote - Popotl
Pozole - Potzolli
Papalote - Papalotl
Mole - Molli
Milpa - Milpa
Mezquite - Mizquitl
Jitomate - Xictomatl
Chocolate - Xocolatl

These are just a few that we use on a daily basis, but most of what we say is really Nahuatl, at times Zapotec, Mixtli, and other Native tongues, and that’s why when you go to Spain, or even attend a school in Mexico, you might even fail a Spanish class because, We speak Nahuatl mixed with some Spanish, and we owe all thanks to our ancestors that were so dedicated in passing down our tongue. 
I hope that empowered you, and gave you pride as well!“ - credit to (Ricardo Ignacio) 

if Arrival accurately portrayed linguists

Colonel Weber: You’re at the top of everyone’s list when it comes to translation.

Louise: Sure but I actually examine cross-linguistic morphosyntax, particularly, what ergativity in endangered Mayan languages ca–

CW: haha what how many languages do you speak

L: That’s a common misconception actually, linguists scientifically study lang–

CW: haha ok just translate this alien shit u fuckin nerd


Minoritized languages moodboard: Kaqchikel

The Kaqchikel or Kaqchiquel language is a Mayan language spoken by the indigenous Kaqchikel people in central Guatemala.
This language is now taught in public schools through Guatemala’s intercultural bilingual education programmes.

For @gatosymochilos

The Road To El Dorado character names origin

  • Miguel - In Spanish, the name Miguel means “who is like God” or “god-like”. In the film, Miguel represents the Mayan sun god Kinich Ahau.
  • Tulio - It derives from Latin origin Tullius which means “one who leads” and means “lively” in Spanish. In the film, Tulio represents the Aztec rain god (as well as fertility) Tlaloc.
  • Chel - Her name comes from the jaguar goddess of midwifery Ixchel.
  • Altivo - In Spanish, it means “arrogant”.
  • Tzekel-Kan - It is a name created by the writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, who studied various phrases from the Mayan, Incan, and Aztec languages. The name would translate to “snake skull”.


Simple vowel sytems ranging from 3 to 8 vowels. It includes no front rounded vowels, no back unrounded vowels, and only symmetrical systems with little allophony. Examples of languages for each type:

  • 3 vowels [i, u, a] - modern standard Arabic, most australian aboriginal languages, Aleut, Inkutitut (Eskimo langs.), Greenlandic, Quechua, Aymará, Miskito (in Nicaragua), Centras Atlas Berber
  • 4 vowels [i, e, a, o~u] - Cree, Ojibew, Slavey, Dene, Navajo, Nahuatl, Malagasy
  • 5 vowels [i, u, e, o, a] - Spanish, Basque, Sardinian, Mayan languages, Czech, Slovak, Greek, Hebrew, Georgian, Lezgian, Fula, Hausa, Songhay, Swahili, Kinyarwanda, Ganda, Turkana, Luvale, Mbundu, Nyanja, Chichewa, Shona, Ovambo, Xhosa, Zulu, Tsonga, Makua, Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Kadazan Dusun, Japanese, Tok Pisin, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Brahui, Divehi, Maori, Fijian, Samoan, Tuvaluan, Kiribati, Hawaian, Nama-Khoe, Sandawe, Lakota, etc.
  • 6 vowels [i, ɨ, u, e, o, a] - Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, Kashubian, Erzya, Guaraní, Mapuche, Garífuna
  • 6 vowels [i, u, e, o, æ, ɑ] - Persian, Pashto, Tajik, Uzbekh, Egyptian, Iraqi, Najdi, Tunisian and Levantine Arabic, Northern Sami, Nenets, Latvian, Orya, Sinhala.
  • 6 vowels [i, u, e, ə, o, a] - Itelmen, Macedonian, Bulgarian, Kanuri, Marathi, Nepali, Malay, Indonesian, Sundanese, Javanese, Moroccan and Algerian Arabic, Armenian, Cherokee.
  • 7 vowels [i, ɨ, u, e, ə, o, a] - Romanian, Komi, Udmurt, Hakka and Gan Chinese, Amami, Amharic, Tigrinya, Tigre, Malayalam.
  • 7 vowels [i, e, ɛ, u, o, ɔ, a] - Galician, Brazilian Portuguese, Italian, Corsican, Southern Catalan (Valencian), Tedaga, Dazaga, Zaghawa (in Chad), Yorubá, Igbo, Akan, Ewe, Fon, Lingala, Dinka, Nuer, Luo, Masai, Kikuyu, Tswana, Bengali, Haitian Creole.
  • 8 vowels [i, e, ɛ, ə, u, o, ɔ, a] - European Portuguese, Northern Catalan, Wolof, Slovenian, Burmese, Gujarati, Santali.

Ancient Mayan languages are creating problems for today’s immigration courts”  Really, LA Times, really? Much like the people, Mayan languages have survived and thrived since ancient times.

Q’anjob’al Maya is a contemporary Mayan language. This is why youth seeking refuge from forced gang recruitment need a Q’anjob’al language interpreter to represent themselves in US immigration courts.

To act like the problem for “today’s immigration courts” is “ancient Mayan languages” is ignorant at best. Maybe, like your newspaper, part of the problem is that ICE thinks that everyone from Latin America speaks Spanish? (sigh) Or that ICE officers who aren’t lawyers make reasonable fear determinations without questioning asylum seekers in their native languages?

4.2.1 - Fixed stress patterns

First syllable - icelandic, faroese, irish, gaelic, manx, finnish, sami languages, estonian, latvian, czech, slovak, hungarian, nenets, ngasangan, bengali, kongo, garifuna.

Second syllable - mapundungun, slavey (Na-Dene), lakota, dakota, some basquue dialects, arrernte (Australia).

Antepenultimate syllable - macedonian, georgian, cree languages.

Penultimate - quechua, aymara, luvale, zulu, swahili, malagasy, malay, indonesian, tagalog, cebuano, winaray, polish, breton, hawaiian.

Ultimate syllable - greenlandic, french, guaraní, many mayan languages, berber, persian, dari, uzbekh, tajik, khmer, aceh, bashkort.

Three Problems with Deciphering the Indus Script
  1. no firm information is available about its underlying language. Was this an ancestor of Sanskrit or Dravidian, or of some other Indian language family, such as Munda, or was it a language that has disappeared? Linear B was deciphered because the tablets turned out to be in an archaic form of Greek; Mayan glyphs because Mayan languages are still spoken.
  2. no names of Indus rulers or personages are known from myths or historical records: no equivalents of Rameses or Ptolemy, who were known to those studying hieroglyphs from records of ancient Egypt available in Greek. Therefore, even if combinations of Indic symbols appear repeatedly, we have no idea what the equivalent sound might be. It could be a ruler’s name, a stream’s name, really anything.
  3. there is, as yet, no Indus bilingual inscription comparable to the Rosetta Stone (written in Egyptian and Greek). The cracking the Mayan script started in 1876 using a Spanish manuscript from the 1500s that recorded a discussion in colonial Yucatan between a Spanish priest and a Yucatec Mayan-speaking elder about ancient Mayan writing, an equivalent find to the Rosetta Stone. It is conceivable that such a bilingual inscription may exist in Mesopotamia, given its trade links with the Indus civilization, but it has not yet been discovered.
Which languages do and don't use an alphabet?

Languages that are primarily logographic (a different symbol per word):

Chinese (Mandarin, Wu, Yue, and Min)

Languages that mix logographic (see above) and phonograms (characters may have started as a logographs, but now have phonetic meanings):

Ancient Egyptian

Languages that are primarily Abjad (symbols for consonants, but leave the reader to fill in the vowels):


Languages that are primarily Abugida (primary symbols for consonants, secondary markings for vowels):

Indic / Brahmic
Cree (native Canadian)

Languages that are fully alphabetic (giving equal status to consonants and vowels in the writing):

Roman (English, French, German etc.)
Cyrillic (Russian, Bulgarian, etc.)
Greek (Greek!)
Georgian (Asomtavruli, Nuskhuri, Mkhedruli)
Armenian (Armenian!)
Korean (Hangul) - a synthetic alphabet designed in 1443
Vietnam (Roman plus a large number of accents to represent tones)

I have a closet obsession with languages. (I blame my deep curiosity on the Mayans and their language as a kid).

I have tried and tries and tries again to learn Japanese. I fucking love Japanese, but I just can’t. Not by myself. I need someone to help me over roadblocks and confusion, or even just to guide me because there is SO MUCH to learn. Memorizing all those Kanji isn’t even half of it. I want someone to practice with, material to read, things to watch; I need immersion. Maybe, hopefully, one day I will actually take a Japanese class and see how it goes.

I doubt it will be better, but now I’m going to try to learn Esperanto. I will probably hit a roadblock the first time someone is like “why are you learning a fake language?” but it sounds fun. I’m nervous about my ability to keep it up, and I don’t have much faith in myself, but here goes nothing I guess.

How Do We Know What The Maya Believed?

Mostly, it is from written sources. Archaeologists and historians are very, very thankful that the Maya independently invented writing, allowing them to record much of what was important to them and their worldview. The oldest written Mayan myths date from the 1500s and are found in historical sources from the Guatemalan Highlands. The most important of these documents is the Popol Vuh or ‘Book of the Council’ which contains Quichean creation stories and some of the adventures of the Hero Twins. Yucatán is an equally important region, where ‘The Books of Chilam Balam’ were found. Written in the Yucatec Mayan language and using the Latin alphabet, the nine books are attributed to a legendary author called Chilam Balam. These contain mythological passages, history, calendars and day classifications, medicinal recipes, and some Spanish traditions.

There are also Mayan mythological fragments found scattered among the early-colonial Spanish chronicles and reports, chief among them Diego de Landa’s Relación, and in the dictionaries compiled by the early missionaries. In the 1800s and 1900s, anthropologists and local folklorists, determined to preserve the Maya culture and heritage, committed many stories to paper. Even though most Maya tales are the results of an historical process in which Spanish narrative traditions interacted with native ones, some of the tales reach back well into pre-Spanish times.