What is the Mayan language?

What Does Mayan language Mean

We explain what the Mayan language is, its history and characteristics. Also, examples of Mayan words, poems and riddles.

The Mayan language is spoken by more than 800,000 people in Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala.

What is the Mayan language?

The Yucatec Mayan is commonly called the Mayan language or Mayan language, that is, the indigenous language of the Yucatan peninsula , in southern Mexico (states of Yucatán, Quintana Roo and Campeche). It belongs to the surviving body of the Mayan languages (spoken in Belize, Guatemala and southeastern Mexico), the main Mesoamerican linguistic family.


In Mexico, the Mayan language is the second indigenous language with the largest number of speakers after Nahuatl. Today it is spoken by more than 800,000 people in the national territory, along with some 5,000 in Belize and 700 in Guatemala.

In addition, according to the government of the latter country, 25 languages are spoken in its territory, of which 22 qualify as Mayan languages (with a common trunk to Yucatec Mayan).

In these regions the Mayan language is widely used, both for school education , domestic life and local economic transactions. It has been recognized since 2003 as one of the national languages of the Mexican State.

See also: Mayan culture

History of the Mayan language

All Mayan languages are descendants of a Proto- Maya language that dates from approximately 5,000 years ago . It arose in the Mesoamerican area and diversified very quickly into a set of Mayan languages, a family of languages that exhibit enormous similarities. Some of them were written, in pre-Columbian America, using glyphs.

The writing was common during the classical period of the Mayan Culture (c. 250-900 AD), and many of its bark paper codices have survived to this day. Together with the rich colonial Mayan literature of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, they constitute extremely important documents for the understanding of Mesoamerica prior to the arrival of the Spanish.

Thanks to this, the Mayan language family is one of the most documented and well-known in all of America . They cover 22 official languages in Guatemala and 8 in Mexico , with Yucatec Mayan being just one of them.

Characteristics of the Mayan language

In general, the Mayan language is a synthetic and thrifty language, based on monosyllabic morphemes . Although it economizes on vowels, it does not produce long consonant strings or vowel groupings. There are no articles , no genre, and no infinitive mode .

Many of his verbs also function as nouns, and he uses an apostrophe to separate repeated letters. The entire language can be written today with Latin characters.

Phonetically, in Yucatec Maya , deaf consonant sounds abound , as well as glottalized consonants (pronounced at the end of the throat). It has five vowels, like Spanish, which can be long, and also two glottalized vowels. It also has two tones, one high and the other low, and its pronunciation is usually fast and complex.

Mayan language words

Here is a brief sample of words in Mayan:

  • Janal: Food.
  • Naj: Home.
  • Aj: Sir.
  • Xiix: Rest, residue.
  • T'eel: Rooster.
  • Ma'ax: Monkey.
  • Soots': Bat.
  • Miis: Cat.
  • Ha ': Water.
  • Peech: Tick.
  • Báaxal: Toy, joke.
  • Nojoch: Great.
  • Maalix: Ordinary, common.
  • Tuunich: Stone.
  • Puuch ': Smash or squash .
  • Pan ch'eel: Toucan.
  • Am: Spider.
  • In'kel: Insect.
  • Tsíimim: Horse.

Poems in the Mayan language

And then we present a couple of poems in Mayan with their Spanish translation:

To Yáamaj

Mix máak ku yuk'ul tin luuch,

mix máak ku jupik and k'ab ichil in leek

mix máak ku janal tin laak.

A yámae júntuul tzayam kóil peek 'ch'apachtán tumen máako'ob.

Nájil naj ku páatal yéetel u xtakche'il jool naj.

Your laakal máak yojel dzok u chíiken a yáamaj.

Your love

No one drinks from my canteen

no one slips their hand into my bread basket,

no one eats from my plate.

Your love is a raging dog that is pushed away by everyone else.

In every house, the doors are closed for you.

And people know that your love has bitten me.

I'm in tzuutz a chi

I'm in tz'uutz 'a chi

Tut yam x cohl

X ciichpam zac

And an and an au ahal

I will kiss your mouth

I will kiss your mouth

among the cornfield plants,

sparkling beauty,

you must hurry.

Riddles in Mayan language

Finally, a couple of riddles in Mayan with their respective Spanish translation:

Question: Ch 'ujuk in k'aaba'. Kin ch'ujulkinsik u kuxtal le maako'obo

Answer: Kaab .

Translation: Sweet is my name. And I sweeten the life of man (Honey).

Question: Tilla ni, tillan, saya ni Sayán, purini, purín.

Answer: oochel .

Translation: I sit, sit, stand, stand. (The shadow).

Pregunta: Wa na'at na'ateche 'na'at le na'ata': Na'aj ku na'akal, wi'ij ku lúubul.

Answer: Bóolador wa ka'anal waak '.

Translation: Guess by guessing Full belly flying. Hungry he comes down whistling. (The rocket or firecracker).


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