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Linguistics Mayan Languages
by
Nora C. England, Roberto Zavala Maldonado

Introduction

The Mayan family of languages consists of about thirty extant languages plus at least two (Chicomuceltec and Ch’olti’) that have died since European contact. They are spoken in a relatively compact area in Guatemala, Mexico, Belize, and Honduras and have been the most studied of all Mesoamerican language families. Mayan languages are quite extensively documented in the pre-Columbian period through the hieroglyphic texts that have been preserved, mostly those carved in stone. In addition, several important documents were written by Mayas in the 16th century in a Latin alphabet introduced by the Spanish. Beginning in the same time period, many dictionaries, a few grammars, and several other documents were written by Spanish priests. Several German scholars, including Karl Scherzer and Karl Sapper, began to study Mayan languages in the late 19th century and this tradition was continued into the 20th century. The Summer Institute of Linguistics/Wycliffe Bible Translators began working in the Mayan area in 1942 when its founder, William Cameron Townsend, first went to Guatemala. It has published a number of dictionaries and grammatical descriptions as well as Bible translations. Modern description, documentation, and analysis of Mayan languages began in the 1940s, especially with the work of Norman McQuown, and gathered momentum in the 1960s with the work of Terrence Kaufman. Formal theoretical studies of Mayan languages have been undertaken since the late 1970s, and, more recently, speakers of a number of different Mayan languages have contributed to the literature with grammars and with grammatical studies of specific aspects of structure. Grammatical work on Mayan languages has been strongest in morphosyntax, but studies are beginning to contribute to phonetics/phonology and semantics as well. Characteristics of Mayan languages that are noteworthy and have received considerable attention in the literature include ergative alignment; verb initial word orders; the morphology and syntax of focus and topicalization; voice systems; language contact; ancient Maya writing; the cognitive and grammatical organization of space; language vitality; and language use. Coverage of different languages is somewhat uneven, reflecting language accessibility, size, and the interests of specific researchers. The languages that have received the most attention so far are K’ichee’, Yucatec, Tsotsil, Mam, Tseltal, Chol, Itzaj, and Q’anjob’al, but gaps in the materials on the others are being filled in. The languages of the family, with some variant spellings indicated, are Achi (Achí), Akatek (Acatec), Awakatek (Aguacatec), Chol (Ch’ol), Chontal, Chuj, Ch’orti’ (Chortí), Huastec, Itzaj (Itzá), Ixil, Kaqchikel (Cakchiquel), K’ichee’ (K’iche’, Quiché), Lakantun (Lacandón), Mam, Mocho’ (Mochó, Motozintlec), Mopan (Mopán), Popti’ (Jacaltec), Poqomam (Pocomam), Poqomchi’ (Pocomchí), Q’anjob’al (Kanjobal), Q’eqchi’ (Kekchí), Sakapulteko (Sakapulteco), Sipakapense (Sipacapense, Sipacapeño), Teko (Tektiteko, Teco), Tojol-ab’al (Tojolabal), Tseltal (Tzeltal), Tsotsil (Tzotzil), Tz’utujil (Tzutujil, Tzutuhil), Uspantek (Uspantec), and Yucatec (Maya).

Reference Works

Richards 2003 is a linguistic atlas of Guatemala, with the best speaker estimates for that time.

  • Richards, Michael. 2003. Atlas lingüístico de Guatemala. Guatemala City: Serviprensa.

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    The most comprehensive estimates at the time of language populations and also of degrees of language endangerment. Based on government census statistics supplemented by a variety of sampling and mapping techniques.

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Anthologies

England and Elliott 1990 provides a relatively concise perspective on the main advances in Mayan linguistics at the time of publication. Many of the articles are foundational with regard to later work. Other anthologies with uneven quality but including some articles that have been or may be influential in Mayan linguistics are McClaran 1976; England 1978; Martin 1979; Avelino 2011; and Shklovsky, et al. 2011.

  • Avelino, Heriberto. 2011. New perspectives in Mayan linguistics. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars.

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    A collection of sixteen articles, most previously published in MIT Working Papers in Linguistics (which is not acknowledged, however), that includes four on phonetics/phonology (Avelino, Shin, and Tilsen; Frazier; Avelino; Shosted), nine on morphosyntax (Kondic, Hofling, Mateo Toledo, Mó Isém, Coon and Preminger, Bergqvist, Gutiérrez Bravo and Monforte, Skopeteas and Verhoeven, Munro), and three on other topics (Wichmann and Brown, Lacadena, Maxwell).

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  • England, Nora C., ed. 1978. Papers in Mayan linguistics. University of Missouri Miscellaneous Publications in Anthropology No. 6 and Studies in Mayan Linguistics No. 2. Columbia: Department of Anthropology, Univ. of Missouri–Columbia.

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    Seventeen articles, including two on historical-comparative linguistics (Campbell, Norman and Campbell), eight on syntax and morphology (Bricker, Craig, Durbin and Ojeda, Lengyel, K. Martin, Maxwell, Pinkerton, Smith-Stark), two on Mayan languages and Spanish (L. Martin, Farber), and five on connections between language structure and cultural themes (Brody, Derrig, England, Tenner, Wilhite). Commentaries by Craig and Furbee-Losee are also included.

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  • England, Nora C., and Stephen R. Elliott, eds. 1990. Lecturas sobre la lingüística Maya. Antigua, Guatemala: Centro de Investigaciones Regionales de Mesoamérica.

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    Twenty articles, distributed as follows: “General Perspectives” (Cojtí Cuxil, Herrera, Campbell and Kaufman), “Perspectives on (Specific) Mayan Languages” (Kaufman, Pye and Rekart, Sam Colop, Chacach Cutzil, Cojtí Macario and López, England ), “Morphological Topics” (Craig, Stewart, Godfrey), “Syntactic Topics” (Knowles-Berry, Larsen, Dayley, Aissen), and “Discourse” (Martin, Maxwell, Brody, Du Bois).

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  • Martin, Laura, ed. 1979. Papers in Mayan linguistics. Columbia, MO: Lucas Brothers.

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    Nine articles cover history (Bacon), lexicography (Laughlin), style (Mudd), cultural concepts expressed in language (White), and syntax/morphology (Aissen, Bricker, Craig, Martin, Stewart). Commentary by Bricker and Norman completes the volume.

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  • McClaran, Marlys. 1976. Mayan linguistics. Vol. 1. Los Angeles: Univ. of California, Los Angeles, American Indian Studies Center.

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    Eighteen articles are included in four sections: “Lexicography and Applied Linguistics” (Dayley, Maldonado Andrés and Ordóñez Domingo, Day), “Historical and Comparative Linguistics” (Fisher, Smith, Kaufman, Campbell), “Synchronic Linguistics” (McClaran, Larsen, Maxwell, Craig, Dakin, Furbee-Losee), and “Semantics” (Straight, England, Attinasi, Fought, Stross).

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  • Shklovsky, Kirill, Pedro Mateo Pedro, and Jessica Coon, eds. 2011. Proceedings of formal approaches to Mayan linguistics. MIT Working Papers in Linguistics 63. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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    Nineteen papers in English or Spanish on phonetics/phonology (Baird, Barrett, García Zúñiga, Herrera Zendejas, López Jiménez, Shklovsky), morphology (Ajsivinac Sian and Henderson, Arcos López, Cano Sosaya, Chan Dzul, Lois, Tuz Noh), syntax (Aissen, Can Tec, Coon and Mateo Pedro, Pye), writing (Cruz Gómez, Heinze Balcazar and Rodríguez), acquisition (Mateo Pedro).

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Bibliographies

Campbell, et al. 1978 is the earlier of two modern bibliographies for Mayan languages. Richards 1996 brings the bibliographical information up to 1995. SIL Bibliography: Country Index provides bibliographies of all SIL International materials on Mayan languages of Guatemala and Mexico.

  • Campbell, Lyle, Pierre Ventur, Russell Stewart, and Brant Gardner. 1978. Bibliography of Mayan languages and linguistics. Institute for Mesoamerican Studies 3. Albany: State Univ. of New York Press.

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    Most major sources at the time of publication on Mayan languages and linguistics; particularly valuable for a fairly complete listing of older documents and their locations.

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  • Richards, Julia B. 1996. Bibliografía sobre lingüística maya, 1950–1995. Guatemala City: Academia de las Lenguas Mayas de Guatemala.

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    Organized by language and type of material (e.g., texts, didactic materials, dictionaries, applied linguistics, language planning, and grammar), it is especially valuable in listing materials published in Guatemala.

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  • SIL Bibliography: Country Index.

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    All publications of SIL by country. Some of the publications listed for Guatemala and Mexico can be downloaded from the site. Included are references to dictionaries, grammatical studies, texts, and other materials.

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    Archives

    There are two digital archives of importance for Mayan languages. Both the Archive of Indigenous Languages of Latin America and the archive of the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies have open access.

    Text Collections

    While more and more texts are becoming available in digital archives, several notable print publications of texts in Mayan languages are also available. Hofling 1991 is a book-length collection of fully glossed and translated texts that was published in a series with both a grammar and a dictionary of Itzaj. Laughlin 1977 and Laughlin 1980 constitute a very large and carefully edited text collection in Tzotzil, with English translations. The collection has figured prominently as a data source in research by Judith Aissen, including Aissen 1987 (cited under Western Mayan Languages), Aissen 1992 and Aissen 1999 (both cited under Topic and Focus), or Aissen 1994 (cited under Lexical Categories). Shaw 1971 is a collection of texts by members of SIL, and Furbee-Losee 1976, Furbee-Losee 1979, and Furbee-Losee 1980 are collections of Mayan texts in the short-lived IJAL-NATS series. The formatting of these texts makes them difficult to use.

    • Furbee-Losee, Louanna, ed. 1976. Mayan texts I. International Journal of American Linguistics–Native American Text Series 1. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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      Twenty-four texts in Huastec, Kekchi (Q’eqchi’), Quiche (K’ichee’), Tzutujil (Tz’utujil), Pocomam (Poqomam), Mam, Jacaltec (Popti’), and Acateco (Akatek).

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    • Furbee-Losee, Louanna, ed. 1979. Mayan texts II. International Journal of American Linguistics–Native American Text Series Monograph No. 3. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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      Fourteen texts in Chol, Lacandon, Yucatec Maya, Tzeltal (Tseltal), and Tzotzil (Tsotsil).

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    • Furbee-Losee, Louanna, ed. 1980. Mayan texts III. International Journal of American Linguistics–Native American Monograph No. 5. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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      Nine texts in Ixil, Kanjobal (Q’anjob’al), Chuj, and Tojolabal (Tojol-ab’al).

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    • Hofling, Charles A. 1991. Itzá Maya texts, with a grammatical overview. Salt Lake City: Univ. of Utah Press.

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      Text collection published as part of a text-dictionary-grammar trilogy. Grammatical overview and twenty-four texts with interlinear glossing and line-by-line translation.

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    • Laughlin, Robert M. 1977. Of cabbages and kings: Tales from Zinacantan. Smithsonian Contributions to Anthropology 23. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.

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      About 170 texts presented in a double-column English–Tzotzil format.

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    • Laughlin, Robert M. 1980. Of shoes and ships and sealing wax: Sundries from Zinacantan. Smithsonian Contributions to Anthropology 25. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.

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      About fifty texts presented in a double-column English–Tzotzil format. Includes accounts of trips made to the United States by Laughlin’s two main collaborators.

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    • Shaw, Mary, ed. 1971. According to our ancestors: Folk texts from Guatemala and Honduras. Summer Institute of Linguistics Publications in Linguistics and Related Fields 32. Norman: Summer Institute of Linguistics of the Univ. of Oklahoma.

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      Texts in Mopan, Achi, Awakatek, Chuj, Ixil, Kaqchikel, K’iche’, Popti’, Poqomchi’, Q’eqchi’, Tz’utujil, and Uspantek.

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    Dictionaries

    Far too many dictionaries of Mayan languages, including a large number of colonial dictionaries, exist than to detail them all here. Several of the modern dictionaries are included, however, because of special characteristics. Ajpacajá Tum 2001, a dictionary of K’ichee’, is the only monolingual full-length dictionary; it has more than twenty thousand entries. Laughlin 1975 and Hofling and Tesucún 1997 are bilingual dictionaries of Tzotzil and Itzaj, respectively, and they each have more than twenty thousand entries. The authors of Laughlin and Haviland 1988 apply the lexicographer’s art to a colonial dictionary of Tzotzil, producing a three-volume work with Tzotzil, English, and Spanish sections. Cu Cab, et al. 2003 is a comparative dictionary of lexical items in the Mayan languages of Guatemala. Pérez Mendoza, et al. 1996 is the best example of the dictionary project undertaken in the 1970s by the Proyecto Lingüístico Francisco Marroquín in Guatemala under the direction of Terrence Kaufman. The dictionaries produced by this project were entirely written by native speakers. Simón Morales and Baltazar Gutiérrez 2007 is an example of a later generation of dictionaries written by native speakers for the linguistics research institution Oxlajuuj Keej Maya’ Ajtz’iib’, Guatemala. Kaufman and Justeson 2003 is an extensive etymological dictionary.

    • Ajpacajá Tum, Florentino Pedro. 2001. K’ichee’ choltziij. Guatemala City: Cholsamaj.

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      A full-length monolingual dictionary of K’ichee’, with approximately 23,000entries.

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    • Cu Cab, Carlos Humberto, Juan Carlos Sacba Caal, Juventino Pérez Alonzo, et al. 2003. Maya’ choltzij: Vocabulario comparativo de los idiomas Mayas de Guatemala. Guatemala City: Cholsamaj.

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      A comparative vocabulary of 1,500 words in twenty Guatemalan Mayan languages, with Spanish and English glosses.

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    • Hofling, Charles A., and Félix Fernando Tesucún. 1997. Itzaj Maya-Spanish-English dictionary: Diccionario maya itzaj-español-inglés. Salt Lake City: Univ. of Utah Press.

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      Part of the text-dictionary-grammar set for Itzaj, this dictionary has more than twenty thousand entries. It includes an introduction to the grammatical classes, a root index, and Spanish–Itzaj and English–Itzaj indexes.

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    • Kaufman, Terrence, and John Justeson. 2003. A preliminary Mayan etymological dictionary. Los Angeles: Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies.

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      A massive etymological dictionary organized by semantic domain and with the level of each reconstruction indicated.

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    • Laughlin, Robert M. 1975. The great Tzotzil dictionary of San Lorenzo Zinacantań. Smithsonian Contributions to Anthropology 19. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.

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      One of the earliest and most complete of the modern dictionaries of a Mesoamerican language, with more than twenty thousand entries. Entries are organized by roots. In addition to the Tzotzil–English section, there is an English–Tzotzil section, a list of flora and fauna by scientific name, and an atlas keyed to maps.

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    • Laughlin, Robert M., and John B. Haviland. 1988. The great Tzotzil dictionary of Santo Domingo Zinacantań; with grammatical analysis and historical commentary. 3 vols. Smithsonian Contributions to Anthropology 31. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.

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      A modern edition of a late-16th-century to early-17th-century dictionary, with Tzotzil–English, English–Tzotzil, and Spanish–Tzotzil volumes. There are slightly more than eleven thousand entries ordered by roots and a contrastive grammar sketch (colonial–modern Tzotzil).

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    • Pérez Mendoza, Francisco, Miguel Hernández Mendoza, and Jon P. Dayley. 1996. Diccionario tz’utujil. Antigua, Guatemala: Proyecto Lingüístico Francisco Marroquín.

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      The most complete of the dictionaries that were begun by the Proyecto Lingüístico Francisco Marroquín in the early 1970s under the direction of Terrence Kaufman. There are close to seven thousand entries with sentence examples and grammatical information, a substantial grammatical sketch, and a Spanish-Tz’utujil glossary.

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    • Simón Morales, Érico, and Ernesto Baltazar Gutiérrez. 2007. Pujb’il yool B’a’aj: Diccionario bilingüe Tektiteko-Español. Guatemala City: Oxlajuuj Keej Maya’ Ajtz’iib’ and Cholsamaj.

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      One of the largest bilingual dictionaries written by native speakers, with 8,500 entries. These include examples and grammatical information. It also has more than one hundred photos organized by semantic domain and a Spanish-Tektiteko glossary. Together with a grammar, Pérez 2007 (cited in Mamean Languages), and a text collection (audio, transcriptions, glossing) archived at Archive of Indigenous Languages of Latin America (cited under Archives), it forms a text-dictionary-grammar set.

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    Grammars

    While the grammar of Mayan languages received some attention in the colonial period and again beginning in the 19th century and early 20th century, modern grammars of Mayan languages that had as a goal describing the languages in their own terms began to appear mostly in the second half of the 20th century. Starting in the 1980s, these grammars for the first time included substantial sections on syntax. They have continued to increase their coverage of syntax and some also include initial analyses of discourse. A number of the most complete and useful grammars of the many that are available have been selected for inclusion. They are divided into sections on K’ichee’an Languages, Mamean Languages, Western Mayan Languages, and Yucatecan and Huastecan Languages.

    K’ichee’an Languages

    Kaufman 1990 presents the author’s concept of Mayan grammatical structure, taking K’ichee’ as the principal language of reference. Dayley 1985 is a grammar of Tz’utujil that served as a model of grammar-writing for many later grammars, and Larsen 1988 is a grammar of K’ichee’ that has been widely recognized as one of the best studies of K’ichee’ to have been written. It is especially complete with regard to syntax. García Matzar and Rodríguez Guaján 1997 is a grammar of Kaqchikel written by native speakers of the language, and Santos Nicolás and Benito Pérez 1998 is a grammar of Poqomam also written by native speakers. Can Pixabaj 2007 is a grammar of Uspantek written by a native speaker of K’ichee’.

    • Can Pixabaj, Telma. 2007. Jkemiik yoloj li Uspanteko: Gramática Uspanteka. Guatemala City: Oxlajuuj Keej Maya’ Ajtz’iib’ and Cholsamaj.

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      A reference grammar of Uspantek, a language of the K’ichee’an branch.

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    • Dayley, Jon P. 1985. Tzutujil grammar. University of California Publications in Linguistics 107. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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      A reference grammar of Tzutujil (Tz’utujil), a language of the K’ichee’an branch. This grammar was groundbreaking in covering many topics in syntax.

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    • García Matzar, Pedro (Lolmay), and José Obispo Rodríguez Guaján (Pakal). 1997. Rukemik ri Kaqchikel chi’: Gramática Kaqchikel. Guatemala City: Cholsamaj.

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      A reference grammar of Kaqchikel, of the K’ichee’an branch.

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    • Kaufman, Terrence. 1990. Algunos rasgos estructurales de los idiomas Mayances con referencia especial al K’iche’. In Lecturas sobre la Lingüística Maya. Edited by Nora C. England and Stephen R. Elliott, 59–114. La Antigua Guatemala: Centro de Investigaciones Regionales de Mesoamérica.

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      This is Terrence Kaufman’s overview of Mayan grammar, presented through the lens of the relatively conservative K’ichee’. It covers phonology, morphology, syntax, and derivation, and it includes a very short fragment of the Popol Vuh as an analyzed text example.

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    • Larsen, Thomas W. 1988. Manifestations of ergativity in Quiché grammar. PhD diss., Univ. of California, Berkeley.

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      A grammar of Quiché (K’ichee’) (K’ichee’an branch) with special attention to ergativity, and some analysis within a Government and Binding theoretical approach. It is distinguished by careful attention to a number of unusual topics and by very thorough coverage of syntax.

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    • Santos Nicolás, José Francisco (Pala’s), and José Gonzalo Benito Pérez (Waykan). 1998. Rukorb’aal Poqom q’orb’al: Gramática Poqom (Poqomam). Guatemala City: Cholsamaj.

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      A reference grammar of Poqomam, of the K’ichee’an branch, based on the Palín dialect.

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    Mamean Languages

    England 1983 is a grammar of Mam that provided a model for grammar writing in Mayan languages. Pérez and Jiménez 1997 is a grammar of Mam written by native speakers of the language; it includes information on several different dialects. Pérez 2007 is a grammar of Teko written by a native speaker of Mam.

    Western Mayan Languages

    In this group of grammars, Craig 1977 and Aissen 1987 are comprehensive studies in syntax rather than general reference grammars. They establish many of the topics in syntax that have formed the basis for subsequent study. Haviland 1981 complements Aissen 1987 with descriptive detail in morphology and morphosyntax. Zavala Maldonado 1992 is a very complete reference grammar of Akatek. Polian 2006 is a grammar of Tseltal that takes good advantage of previous advances in knowledge of Mayan grammar, as does Vázquez Álvarez 2011, a grammar of Chol.

    Yucatecan and Huastecan Languages

    Edmonson 1988 is a grammar of Huastec and Hofling 2000 is a grammar of Itzaj that forms a set with Hofling 1991 (cited under Text Collections) and Hofling and Tesucún 1997 (cited under Dictionaries).

    History

    There are about thirty Mayan languages in six branches: K’ichee’an and Mamean within the Eastern Division, Q’anjob’alan and Cholan within the Western Division, Yucatecan, and Huastecan. The most widely accepted classification of the languages is that of Kaufman 1976; an alternative classification is that of Robertson 1992. Kaufman 1976 covers both the development of the Mayan language family and contact with other Mesoamerican groups. Campbell 1977 details the linguistic history of the Quichean (K’ichee’an) branch, while Kaufman and Norman 1984 covers that of the Cholan branch. Robertson 1992 and Hofling 2006 discuss the verb complex (Robertson for Mayan in general, Hofling for Yucatecan), while Romero 2012 describes a specific morphosyntactic change in one language. History subsections include Language Contact, Dialect Studies, Classic Writing and Literature, and Colonial Documents.

    • Campbell, Lyle. 1977. Quichean linguistic prehistory. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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      Proposes dialect groupings for Quichean languages, reconstructs proto-Quiché (K’ichee’) phonology, and points out the value of written philological documentation for Quichean prehistory. Evaluates past classifications of Mayan languages and details loans into Maya from other Mesoamerican languages.

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    • Hofling, Charles A. 2006. A sketch of the history of the verbal complex in Yukatekan Mayan languages. International Journal of American Linguistics 72.3: 367–396.

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      Provides evidence for a particular model of the relationships among Yukatekan Mayan languages on the basis of person, status, voice, and aspect marking. Available online by subscription.

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    • Kaufman, Terrence. 1976. Archaeological and linguistic correlations in Mayaland and associated areas of Meso-America. World Archaeology 8.1: 101–118.

      DOI: 10.1080/00438243.1976.9979655Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Offers influential hypotheses that deal with the temporal and geographic diversification of the Mayan language family and identifies the linguistic evidence to establish linguistic contacts of Mayan with non-Mayan cultures, thus suggesting a number of archaeological and linguistic correlations regarding several Mesoamerican civilizations. Available online by subscription.

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    • Kaufman, Terrence, and William M. Norman. 1984. An outline of proto-Cholan phonology, morphology and vocabulary. In Phoneticism in Mayan hieroglyphic writing. Edited by John Justeson and Lyle Campbell, 77–166. Albany: Institute for Mesoamerican Studies, State Univ. of New York.

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      A comprehensive comparison of the phonology, morphology, and lexicon of the languages of the Cholan subgroup that examines the genetic relationships among them and their place within the Mayan family.

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    • Robertson, John. 1992. The history of tense, aspect, mood, and voice in the Mayan verbal complex. Austin: Univ. of Texas Press.

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      Includes an introduction to principles of language change and to the tense-aspect-mood-voice system in Maya as well as chapters on pertinent developments in Mamean, K’iche’an, Q’anjob’alan, Cholti’ and Chorti’, Tzeltalan, and Yukatek Maya.

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    • Romero, Sergio. 2012. A Maya version of Jespersen’s cycle: Speaker stance and the rise of post-verbal negators in K’iche’ Maya. International Journal of American Linguistics 78.1: 77–96.

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      A study of specific change in the way negation is marked in K’iche’. Shows that the first stage was to have a single negative marker before the predicate head, then a counterfactual marker was added after the clausal head, and finally the counterfactual marker was reanalyzed as a negative marker and became the only required marker of negation. Available online by subscription.

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    Language Contact

    Most language contact studies have been based on the lexicon, as is the case for Justeson, et al. 1985; Wichmann and Brown 2003; and Wichmann and Hull 2009. Law 2011 is one of the first studies to look specifically at nonlexical evidence of contact, in this case contact within the family. Wichmann and Brown 2003 also examines family internal contact, while Justeson, et al. 1985 is concerned with external contact and Wichmann and Hull 2009 looks at both external and internal contact.

    • Justeson, John S., William M. Norman, Lyle Campbell, and Terrence Kaufman. 1985. The foreign impact on lowland Mayan language and script. Middle American Reseach Institute Publication 53. New Orleans, LA: Tulane Univ. Press.

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      The first study to define both the lowland and greater lowland Mayan language areas. It concentrates on foreign influence on the areas, mostly lexical, through writing as well as speech.

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    • Law, Daniel Aaron. 2011. Linguistic inheritance, social difference, and the last two thousand years of contact among lowland Mayan languages. PhD diss., Univ. of Texas, Austin.

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      A study of nonlexical contact phenomena among Mayas in the Mayan lowlands. After reviewing the phonological, syntactic, semantic, and morphological areal features of the lowlands, the author makes new analyses of contact with regard to person marking, aspect, and split ergativity. He also reconsiders the place of Tojol-ab’al in the family, suggesting that it has an origin as a mixed language.

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    • Wichmann, Søren, and Cecil H. Brown. 2003. Contact among some Mayan languages: Inferences from loanwords. Anthropological Linguistics 45.1: 57–93.

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      Examines loans into Ixil, Q’eqchi’, and Chicomuceltec and proposes two contexts for lexical borrowing—cultural domination, in which loans are made from dominant to subordinate groups, and local exchange through intimate interaction such as marriage. Available online by subscription.

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    • Wichmann, Søren, and Kerry Hull. 2009. Loanwords in Q’eqchi’, a Mayan language of Guatemala. In Loanwords in the world’s languages: A comparative handbook. Edited by Martin Haspelmath and Uri Tadmor, 873–896. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

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      A detailed study of loanwords in one language; includes a list of loanwords from Cholan, Yucatecan, and Spanish.

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    Dialect Studies

    The Guatemalan linguistic research group Oxlajuuj Keej Maya’ Ajtz’iib’ undertook a series of dialect studies in 1998 with the objective of providing information about dialect variation for the purpose of language standardization. Caz Cho 2007 contains the results for Q’eqchi’ dialects; Malchic Nicolás, et al. 2000 reports on Poqomam and Poqomchi’ dialects; Par Sapón and Can Pixabaj 2000 reports on K’ichee’ and Achi dialects; Patal Majtzul, et al. 2000 details the results for Kaqchikel; Pérez, et al. 2000 reports on Mam; Raymundo Gónzalez, et al. 2000 is on Akateko and Q’anjob’al; and Ross Montejo and Delgado Rojas 2000 contains the results for Popti’. Each study compares dialects in terms of phonological, morphological, lexical, and syntactic differences, and each one, except Q’eqchi’, appends vocabulary lists and maps.

    Classic Writing and Literature

    Mayan (Coe and van Stone 2005, Kettunen and Helmke 2010, Wichmann 2004) is the foremost of the writing systems to have developed in Mesoamerica. It uses logographic and phonetic signs. The advances in the interpretation of Mayan individual glyphs and grammatical and discourse patterns have been notable since 1990. Houston, et al. 2000 proposes Ch’olti’ as the language used in the Classic Period Mayan inscriptions. Hull 2003 compares contemporary Ch’orti’ poetic forms with those found in hieroglyphic writing, and Wichmann 2006 discusses the contributions of the study of the writing to historical linguistics. Wichmann 2006 also reviews evidence for and against the Ch’olti’an hypothesis proposed in Houston, et al. 2000.

    • Coe, Michael D., and Mark van Stone. 2005. Reading the Maya glyphs. 2d ed. London: Thames & Hudson.

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      Offers a comprehensive introduction to the Mayan hieroglyphs, with a focus on the lexical elements so far identified in the inscriptions.

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    • Houston, Stephen D., John Robertson, and David Stuart. 2000. The language of classic Maya inscriptions. Current Anthropology 41.3: 321–356.

      DOI: 10.1086/300142Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      A controversial proposal that “Classic Ch’olti’an” was the single prestige language of the Classic Maya inscriptions. Comments from linguists are generally critical, while those from archaeologists are generally in agreement. Several profound academic fault lines are revealed in the discussion. Available online by subscription.

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    • Hull, Kerry. 2003. Verbal art and performance in Ch’orti’ and Maya hieroglyphic writing. PhD diss., Univ. of Texas, Austin.

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      This is a comparative study of contemporary Ch’orti’ poetics and poetic structures in Mayan hieroglyphic writing. It includes an exhaustive catalogue of the different structural features of parallel speech/writing and other poetic devices.

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    • Kettunen, Harri, and Christopher Helmke. 2010. Introduction to Maya hieroglyphs. Rev. ed.

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      Concise introduction to the study of Maya hieroglyphs, targeted to beginning students of Maya epigraphy, that summarizes the recent developments in the field.

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    • Wichmann, Søren. 2006. Mayan historical linguistics and epigraphy: A new synthesis. Annual Review of Anthropology 35:279–294.

      DOI: 10.1146/annurev.anthro.35.081705.123257Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Discusses major current issues in the study of the Maya hieroglyphic inscriptions and how this study contributes to historical linguistics. Proposes that the exceptional phonological transparency of the script was tied to the need to make regional variation clear. Includes a review of the evidence and counterevidence for Classic Ch’olti’an as the language of the inscriptions. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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    • Wichmann, Søren, ed. 2004. The linguistics of Maya writing. Salt Lake City: Univ. of Utah Press.

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      A collection of fourteen papers on the decipherment and linguistic interpretation of grammatical patterns in the Mayan scripts.

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    Colonial Documents

    There are numerous editions of colonial Maya documents, written primarily in K’ichee’, Kaqchikel, and Yucatec Maya. Only a few of the most recent and notable editions are included here. The Popol Wuj (Popol Vuh), in K’ichee’, is the most important of these documents (and arguably, of indigenous American literature). Christenson 2007 includes a digital scan of the manuscript in the Newberry Library, modernized transcriptions, and English and Spanish translations. It allows the user to perform a number of different operations. Another photographed digital version with a transcription and translation is the Popol Wuj Online at Ohio State University. Sam Colop 1999 and Sam Colop 2008 are a two-volume poetic rendition of the Popol Wuj in K’ichee’ (Sam Colop 1999) with its translation into Spanish (Sam Colop 2008). The other colonial Mayan history of special importance is the Kaqchikel document known among other things as the Annals of the Kaqchikels, the Memorial of Sololá, or the Memorial of Tecpán-Atitlán. Maxwell and Hill 1999 includes these documents and several others and has a line-by-line gloss of all of the material as well as a translation. It does not, however, include a facsimile reproduction of the documents; this can be found in Otzoy 1999. Robertson, et al. 2010 is a transcription, analysis, and translation of the only extant material on Ch’olti’; it includes a grammatical analysis.

    • Christenson, Allen J., ed. and trans. 2007. Popol Vuh: The sacred book of the Maya. Provo, UT: Brigham Young Univ.

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      A CD version offers in digital form a scan of the original K’ichee’ (Mayan) manuscript; transcription of the text in 16th-century and modern orthographies; English and Spanish translations with notes and commentary; images; and audio of the K’ichee’. It allows users to search, copy and paste, look up references, and create notes.

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    • Maxwell, Judith M., and Robert M. Hill, eds. and trans. 1999. Kaqchikel chronicles: The definitive edition. Austin: Univ. of Texas Press.

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      Contains the set of Kaqchikel (Mayan) documents also known as the Annals of the Kaqchikels (Cakchiquels) and the Xpantzay Cartulary. The texts are presented in a four-line format with a modern transcription, a morpheme-by-morpheme breakdown, a morpheme-by-morpheme gloss, and a free English translation. Notes and commentaries are included.

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    • Otzoy, Simón C., ed. and trans. 1999. Memorial de Sololá. Guatemala City: Comisión Interuniversitaria Guatemalteca del Descubrimiento de América.

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      This edition of the Annals of the Kaqchikels (Cakchiquels) contains a facsimile reproduction of the original manuscript. It was retranscribed into modern Kaqchikel by Otzoy. The translation and commentaries were prepared by native speakers of Kaqchikel. With cultural and linguistic commentary by Martín Chacach and Narciso Cojtí; introduction and Spanish editing by Jorge Luján Muñoz.

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    • Popol Wuj Online.

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      A scan of the original manuscript of the Popol Vuh (housed in the Newberry Library, Chicago) with a modern transcription and the original translation into Spanish.

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    • Robertson, John S., Danny Law, and Robbie A. Haertel, eds. and trans. 2010. Colonial Ch’olti’: The seventeenth-century Morán manuscript. Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma Press.

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      Photographs of the original Ch’olti’ (Mayan) manuscript with its transcription, a regularized transcription, morpheme analysis, and translation of the religious section, and an analysis of the grammar of colonial Ch’olti’. Appendixes contain additional material, including the word list from the original manuscript with English and Spanish glosses.

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    • Sam Colop, Luis Enrique. 1999. Popol Wuj: Versión poética K’iche’. Guatemala City: Cholsamaj.

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      A poetic version of the Popol Wuj (Popol Vuh) in a modernized transcription, by a native speaker.

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    • Sam Colop, Luis Enrique. 2008. Popol Wuj: Traducción al español y notas. Guatemala City: Cholsamaj.

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      The Spanish translation of the poetic version of the Popol Wuj (Popol Vuh), with notes. This is the companion volume to Sam Colop 1999.

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    Phonology

    Frazier 2009 is one of the increasing number of phonological studies on Mayan languages. Orie and Bricker 2000 is a study in historical phonology that shows two sources for one of the Yucatecan laryngeal consonants. Other studies in phonetics or phonology can be found in Avelino 2011 and Shklovsky, et al. 2011 (both cited under Anthologies).

    • Frazier, Melissa. 2009. The productions and perception of pitch and glottalization in Yucatec Maya. PhD diss., Univ. of North Carolina.

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      Phonetic production and perception studies of vowel shape (pitch, length, glottalization) in Yucatec Maya. Results distinguish two dialect areas and are used to assess the Bidirectional Stochastic Optimality Theoretic model of the phonetics-phonology interface.

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    • Orie, Olanike Ola, and Victoria R. Bricker. 2000. Placeless and historical laryngeals in Yucatec Maya. International Journal of American Linguistics 66.3: 283–317.

      DOI: 10.1086/466427Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Laryngeal consonants in Yucatec ([h] and glottal stop) have characteristics typical of placeless consonants, but [h] additionally sometimes behaves like a place-specified consonant. The place-specified [h] historically comes from a velar fricative, while the placeless [h] comes from a laryngeal. The paper argues that synchronically there are two phonological representations of [h]. Available online by subscription.

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    Morphosyntax and Syntax

    Lehmann 2002 is a detailed study of possession in Yucatec from both morphological and syntactic perspectives and is included here because little other literature exists on the subject (although the various subsections of Grammars should be consulted). The subsections below cover Word Order, Alignment, Voice and Valency, Topic and Focus, and Complex Predicates, all of which have received considerable attention in Mayan studies.

    Word Order

    Word (constituent) order has been a topic of major concern within Mayan linguistics, in part because the languages are or have been argued to be verb initial and in part because some of them permit all possible word orders. The first paper dealing with this subject is Durbin and Ojeda 1978. It discusses Yucatec, one of the languages that permits all orders, but the authors come to no firm conclusions about whether VOS or SVO is the basic word order. Brody 1984 discusses criteria for word order and applies them to the problem of Tojolabal, which also permits all word orders. England 1991 is a comparative study of word order in Mayan languages; it proposes VOS order for Proto-Maya and sketches the changes that occurred in the daughter languages. Gutiérrez Bravo and Monforte 2010 and Skopeteas and Verhoeven 2011 revisit word order in Yucatec, coming to opposite conclusions; Gutiérrez Bravo and Monforte argue for SVO basic order while Skopeteas and Verhoeven argue for VOS basic order. Coon 2010 examines word order in Chol and proposes that VOS order results from fronting, based on object restrictions in that order.

    • Brody, Jill. 1984. Some problems with the concept of basic word order. Linguistics 22:711–736.

      DOI: 10.1515/ling.1984.22.5.711Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Reviews basic word order research at the time of publication and shows how Tojolabal, in which all six orders are possible, manifests conflicts in the criteria for the identification of one of these as “basic.” VOS sentences meet most criteria but are rare; SVO sentences are frequent but pragmatically marked. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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    • Coon, Jessica. 2010. VOS as predicate fronting in Chol. Lingua 120:354–378.

      DOI: 10.1016/j.lingua.2008.07.006Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Argues that VOS order results from the phrasal fronting of the predicate to the specifier of TP, based on restrictions on the characteristics of objects; in particular, that they cannot have a determiner in VOS order.

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    • Durbin, Marshall, and Fernando Ojeda. 1978. Basic word-order in Yucatec Maya. In Papers in Mayan linguistics. Edited by Nora C. England, 69–77. Columbia: Department of Anthropology, Univ. of Missouri.

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      Investigates basic word order in Yucatec Maya, which permits all six orders. Discusses criteria for establishing basic word order and the difficulty of applying them to Yucatec. It is equivocal as to whether VOS or SVO is the basic order.

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    • England, Nora C. 1991. Changes in basic word order in Mayan languages. International Journal of American Linguistics 57.4: 446–486.

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      All but one Mayan language are verb initial; some are rigidly VSO, while others are VOS with differing degrees of flexibility. VOS is proposed for Proto-Maya basic word order, with all other orders being derived. Factors that affect or have affected order include animacy, definiteness, object complexity, topicalization, and focus. Available online by subscription.

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    • Gutiérrez Bravo, Rodrigo, and Jorge Monforte. 2010. On the nature of word order in Yucatec Maya. In Information structure in indigenous languages of the Americas. Edited by José Camacho, Rodrigo Gutiérrez Bravo, and Liliana Sánchez, 139–170. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

      DOI: 10.1515/9783110228533Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      A reanalysis of word order in Yucatec that proposes SVO as the order that results from purely syntactic constraints, and therefore as basic. This order interacts with information structure in various ways but can be distinguished from topicalization and focus orders that also result in VSO. Yucatec has VS order in intransitive clauses and, therefore, split word order.

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    • Skopeteas, Stavros, and Elisabeth Verhoeven. 2011. Distinctness effects on VOS order: Evidence from Yucatec Maya. In New perspectives in Mayan linguistics. Edited by Heriberto Avelino, 275–300. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars.

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      Argues for V initial basic word order in Yucatec Maya and argues further that SVO does not depend on a contextual trigger but instead responds to a constraint against two post-verbal arguments.

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    Alignment

    Larsen and Norman 1979 lays out the basic facts about ergative alignment in Mayan languages. Robertson 1980 addresses the history of the forms of antipassives and verbal nominalizations, and England 1983 adds detail about all-ergative alignment in Mam. Quizar and Knowles-Berry 1988 shows how Cholan ergativity depends on aspect and clause type and notes the unproductivity of the antipassive. See Law 2011 (cited under Language Contact) for a discussion of this as a lowland areal feature. Danziger 1996 shows how the behavior of intransitive verbs in Mopan suggests that the language has active-inactive alignment, and Gutiérrez Sánchez 2004 details agentive alignment in Chol. Both of these patterns are innovative. Zavala Maldonado 1994 reanalyzes the Huastec person marking system, also innovative among Mayan languages, as an inverse marking system. Coon 2010, in opposition to Quizar and Knowles-Berry 1988, makes a case against aspect-based split ergative alignment in Chol.

    • Coon, Jessica. 2010. Rethinking split ergativity in Chol. International Journal of American Linguistics 76.2: 207–253.

      DOI: 10.1086/652266Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Argues that nonperfective verbs in Chol consist of an agreement-bearing aspectual head followed by a possessed nominalized argument and, therefore, do not show split ergativity but instead have absolutive agreement with their only argument. Available online by subscription.

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    • Danziger, Eve. 1996. Split intransitivity and active-inactive patterning in Mopan Maya. International Journal of American Linguistics 62.4: 379–414.

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      Proposes that Mopan is typologically an active-inactive language. Available online by subscription.

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    • England, Nora C. 1983. Ergativity in Mamean (Mayan) languages. International Journal of American Linguistics 49.1: 1–19.

      DOI: 10.1086/465762Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Shows how all-ergative marking developed in Mam in dependent clauses, with Awakatek showing an intermediate step of having two types of marking in dependent clauses, either accusative or all-ergative. Available online by subscription.

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    • Gutiérrez Sánchez, Pedro. 2004. Las clases de verbos intransitivos y el alineamiento agentivo en el chol de Tila, Chiapas. MA thesis, Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social, Mexico City.

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      Analyzes and describes the Cholan characteristic of distinguishing intransitive verbs on the basis of agentivity. This is an innovative feature that has spread to other northern highland languages in contact with Cholan languages, such as Poqomchi’ and Q’eqchi’.

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    • Larsen, Thomas W., and William M. Norman. 1979. Correlates of ergativity in Mayan grammar. In Ergativity: Towards a theory of grammatical relations. Edited by Frans Plank, 347–370. London: Academic Press.

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      The definitional article on ergative alignment in Mayan languages.

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    • Quizar, Robin, and Susan M. Knowles-Berry. 1988. Ergativity in the Cholan languages. International Journal of American Linguistics 54.1: 73–95.

      DOI: 10.1086/466075Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Shows that split ergativity in Cholan languages depends on aspect and clause type. Also notes that the antipassive is either unproductive or limited. Fails to note agentive alignment patterns in Western Cholan. Available online by subscription.

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    • Robertson, John. 1980. The structure of pronoun incorporation in the Mayan verbal complex. New York: Garland.

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      Part 1 is a synchronic and partial diachronic description of the Mayan verbal complex; Part 2 discusses absolutive marking for “transitive” (antipassive) subjects; and Part 3 discusses “ergative” marking on nominalized intransitive verbs. Robertson also introduces his controversial idea of Chuj as a Q’anjob’alan language and Tojolabal as a Tzeltalan language.

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    • Zavala Maldonado, Roberto. 1994. Inverse alignment in Huastec. Estudios en Lenguas Mayas, Función 15–16: 27–81.

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      Presents an analysis of the Huastec person marking system, long considered exceptional among Mayan languages, as an inverse system in which an inverse marker attaches to the higher-ranked person proclitic on transitive verbs. It is only this proclitic that occurs with a transitive verb, rather than two markers, one for subject and the other for object.

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    Voice and Valency

    Dayley 1983 is a foundational comparative article on all types of grammatical voice in Mayan languages: passives, antipassives (including agent focus antipassive or agent focus constructions), and referential/instrumental voice (applicative). Mondloch 1981 is a detailed work on voice in K’ichee’, and Campbell 2000 is a description of all valence-changing derivations in K’ichee’. Zavala Maldonado 1997 provides an analysis of the discourse-pragmatic functions of different voices in Akatek. Smith-Stark 1978 was the work that first established different types of “antipassive,” and Ayres 1983 analyzed the agent promotion forms marked by the “antipassive” morphology as having indexing rather than voice functions in Ixil. Berinstein 1985 was the first person to argue for multiattachment (arguments that fulfill two syntactic roles simultaneously), based on Q’eqchi’. Norman 1978 looks at changes in the instrumental (applicative) construction in several Mayan languages. All of the works listed in the section Topic and Focus also deal with voice and valency, as do those listed in the various subsections of Grammars.

    • Ayres, Glenn. 1983. The antipassive “voice” in Ixil. International Journal of American Linguistics 49.1: 20–45.

      DOI: 10.1086/465763Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      One of the first papers to distinguish between the absolutive antipassive (a voice change) and the agent focus construction marked by the same verb derivation, but here analyzed as a form that indexes the agent rather than as a voice change. Available online by subscription.

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    • Berinstein, Ava. 1985. Evidence for multiattachment in K’ekchi Mayan. New York: Garland.

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      Written within a Relational Grammar framework, this work argues for multiattachment, or the analysis of nominals as bearing more than one grammatical relation, either within or across clauses. Treats passive, antipassive, and two–three retreat.

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    • Campbell, Lyle. 2000. Valency-changing derivations in K’iche’. In Changing valency: Case studies in transitivity. Edited by R. M. W. Dixon and Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald, 238–281. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

      DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511627750Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      A fairly detailed summary of derivations that have anything to do with valency in K’iche’, including passive, completive passive, agent-focus antipassive (“agentive voice”), absolutive antipassive, reflexive, causative, and instrumental applicative. Greatest detail is on the agent-focus antipassive.

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    • Dayley, Jon P. 1983. Voice and ergativity in Mayan languages. In Studies in Mesoamerican linguistics. Edited by Alice Schlichter, Wallace Chafe, and Leanne Hinton, 2–119. Report (Survey of California and Other Indian Languages) 4. Berkeley: Department of Linguistics, Univ. of California.

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      First published in Journal of Mayan Linguistics 2.2 (1981): 3–82, this was the definitional article on variations in the morphology of voice among Mayan languages.

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    • Mondloch, James Lorin. 1981. Voice in Quiche-Maya. PhD diss., State Univ. of New York, Albany.

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      The first treatment of voice in a Mayan language, this is a thorough description of active, passive, completive passive, absolutive, antipassive, and instrumental voices in Quiche (K’ichee’).

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    • Norman, William M. 1978. Advancement rules and syntactic change: The loss of instrumental voice in Mayan. In Proceedings of the 4th annual meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society. Edited by Jeri Jaeger, 258–276. Berkeley, CA: Berkeley Linguistics Society.

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      Discusses the applicative –b’e as an advancement marker in Central Mayan, which then also became an extraction marker in some Eastern Mayan languages, but not in any Western Mayan languages. In some Eastern Mayan languages, such as Ixil and Cakchquel (Kaqchikel), the extraction function replaced the advancement function, leading to the loss of instrumental voice.

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    • Smith-Stark, Thom. 1978. The Mayan antipassive: Some facts and fictions. In Papers in Mayan linguistics. Edited by Nora C. England, 169–187. Columbia: Univ. of Missouri Press.

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      This is the paper that establishes the difference between the absolutive, agent-promotion, and incorporative functions of the “antipassive.” It compares these functions in about half the Mayan languages.

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    • Zavala Maldonado, Roberto. 1997. Functional analysis of Akatek voice constructions. International Journal of American Linguistics 63.4: 439–474.

      DOI: 10.1086/466340Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Examines voices in Akatek from the perspective of their discourse-pragmatic functions. Discusses active-direct, patient-in-focus, agent-in-focus, absolutive antipassive, VP nominalization, impersonal passive, agentive passive, and inverse constructions in terms of topicality and topic persistence measures applied to their arguments. Available online by subscription.

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    Topic and Focus

    Topic and focus are among the syntactic subjects that have received the most attention for Mayan languages. Aissen 1992 establishes the discussion by making distinctions among focus, internal topic, and external topic. Aissen 1999 further analyzes patterns of agent focus in Tzotzil as a kind of inverse construction. Stiebels 2006 reviews almost everything that was known about agent focus and proposes a lexical explanation for the disparate facts found in different languages. Pascual 2007 takes one characteristic of agent focus in Q’anjob’al, the suffix—on, and proposes that it should be analyzed as a dependency marker because of its presence in two other dependent contexts besides agent focus constructions. Norcliffe 2009 addresses the agent focus alternation in Yucatec as a kind of resumptive pronoun/gap alternation, while Skopeteas and Verhoeven 2009 makes a case for left-dislocation in Yucatec arising from two different strategies. Can Pixabaj and England 2011 makes an analysis of preverbal topic and focus in K’ichee’ that suggests that there are four different structures in two positions.

    • Aissen, Judith. 1992. Topic and focus in Mayan. Language 68.1: 43–80.

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      Based on an analysis of Tzotzil, Jakaltek (Popti’), and Tz’utujil. Aissen distinguishes topic and focus and also distinguishes internal and external topics and proposes that they occupy different structural positions. She bases the analysis on a consideration of the intonational phrase, bolstered by syntactic evidence. Available online by subscription.

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    • Aissen, Judith. 1999. Agent focus and inverse in Tzotzil. Language 75.3: 451–485.

      DOI: 10.2307/417057Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Aissen proposes that the agent focus construction in Tzotzil, used in this and some other Mayan languages for extracting agents, is an inverse construction, as in Algonquian languages, that responds to the relative obviation status of the agent and patient. Available online by subscription.

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    • Can Pixabaj, Telma, and Nora C. England. 2011. Nominal topic and focus in K’ichee’. In Representing language: Essays in honor of Judith Aissen. Edited by Rodrigo Gutiérrez-Bravo, Line Mikkelsen, and Eric Potsdam, 15–30. Santa Cruz: Linguistic Research Center, Univ. of California.

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      Examines preverbal positions in K’ichee’ and proposes that four different functions can be distinguished on the basis of position, pauses, and morphosyntax, two topical and two focusing. Does not find a clear distinction between external and internal topics. Available at the California Digital Library eScholarship Repository online.

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    • Norcliffe, Elisabeth. 2009. Head marking in usage and grammar: A study of variation and change in Yucatec Maya. PhD diss., Stanford Univ.

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      Shows that the agent focus alternation in Yucatec is a type of resumptive pronoun/gap alternation, between a verb that has a morphologically dependent subject pronoun and one that does not. Proposes that the origin of agent focus is connected to the emergence of head marking and that asymmetry in the distribution of resumptive pronouns and gaps comes from processing preferences.

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    • Pascual, Adán F. 2007. Transitividad y dependencia sintáctica y discursiva en Q’anjob’al. MA thesis, Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social, Mexico City.

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      Proposes a coherent analysis and explanation of three disparate uses of the suffix—on in Q’anjob’al: to mark agentive focus, indicate syntactic dependency in aspectless clauses (which also trigger split ergativity), and indicate discursive dependency in clauses with aspect that indicates sequential actions or events.

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    • Skopeteas, Stavros, and Elisabeth Verhoeven. 2009. The interaction between topicalization and structural constraints: Evidence from Yucatec Maya. Linguistic Review 26:239–259.

      DOI: 10.1515/tlir.2009.009Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Argues that so-called left dislocation in Yucatec is the result of two different strategies. One is that it arises because of sensitivity to pragmatic considerations (topicality); the other is that there is a dispreference for two postverbal arguments that results in the left-dislocation of one of them. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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    • Stiebels, Barbara. 2006. Agent focus in Mayan languages. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 24.2: 501–570.

      DOI: 10.1007/s11049-005-0539-9Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Proposes a lexical approach to account for the variation found among Mayan languages in the construction used for agent focus. Also considers the historical development of the construction. Available online by subscription.

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    Complex Predicates

    Mateo Toledo 2008 is the first comprehensive study of complex predicates in a Mayan language; the author examines six different constructions in Q’anjob’al and argues for their monoclausal properties. Kockelman 2003 addresses complement clauses and predicate types in Q’eqchi’. The other papers in this section all analyze secondary predicates and were mostly written as a result of work supervised by Judith Aissen and Roberto Zavala. Can Pixabaj 2010 reports on a depictive construction in K’ichee’; Mateo Toledo 2010 analyzes a depictive in Awakateko and compares it to a structurally similar biclausal adjective construction. Pascual 2010 discusses two depictive and one resultative structure in Q’anjob’al, while Mateo Toledo 2012 discusses another depictive structure that is a complex clause. Polian and Sánchez Gómez 2010 reports on juxtaposition as a mechanism to express depictives in Tseltal, and Vázquez Álvarez 2010 analyzes a synthetic secondary predicate structure in Chol that is like structures found in Mixe-Zoque languages.

    • Can Pixabaj, Telma. 2010. Predicación secundaria en K’ichee’: Una construcción restringida. In La predicación secundaria en lenguas de Mesoamérica. Edited by Judith Aissen and Roberto Zavala, 117–148. Publicaciones de la Casa Chata. Mexico City: Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social.

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      Describes a depictive construction in K’ichee’ in which the secondary predicate is a stative positional predicate and the primary predicate is either an intransitive verb or, rarely, a transitive verb of perception. A second type of secondary predicate consists of a noun or adjective.

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    • Kockelman, Paul. 2003. The interclausal relations hierarchy in Q’eqchi’ Maya. International Journal of American Linguistics 69.1: 25–48.

      DOI: 10.1086/376484Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Makes an analysis of complement clause types in Q’eqchi’ in a Role and Reference Grammar framework. Shows that different semantic classes of verbs correlate with different treatments of complements. Available online by subscription.

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    • Mateo Toledo, Eladio. 2008. The family of complex predicates in Q’anjob’al (Maya): Their syntax and meaning. PhD diss., Univ. of Texas, Austin.

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      A groundbreaking description of six complex predicates in Q’anjob’al that resemble resultatives, serial verbs, and causatives in other languages, but that are here shown to have monoclausal properties having to do with temporal structure, argument structure, event structure, and intonational contours.

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    • Mateo Toledo, Eladio (B’alam). 2010. Predicación secundaria en el Awakateko (Maya). In La predicación secundaria en lenguas de Mesoamérica. Edited by Judith Aissen and Roberto Zavala, 149–180. Publicaciones de la Casa Chata. Mexico City: Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social.

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      Examines depictives in Awakatek and shows that the structure of predicate plus predicate in which they appear can also be found with biclausal adverbial constructions. The two types can be distinguished through intonation, order, adjacency of the predicates, and person marking.

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    • Mateo Toledo, Eladio. 2012. Secondary predication in Q’anjob’al (Maya): Structure and semantic types. International Journal of American Linguistics 78.2: 139–174.

      DOI: 10.1086/663871Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      An analysis of a construction in Q’anjob’al that encodes depictive and end-state meanings and has the syntax of a complex clause. It consists of an uninflected nonverbal predicate as the secondary predicate plus a nonfinite primary predicate. Available online by subscription.

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    • Pascual, Adán F. 2010. Los predicadores secundarios en Q’anjob’al. Las construcciones depictivas y resultativas. In La predicación secundaria en lenguas de Mesoamérica. Edited by Judith Aissen and Roberto Zavala, 87–116. Publicaciones de la Casa Chata. Mexico City: Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social.

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      Analyzes two types of depictive secondary predicate constructions in Q’anjob’al in which the secondary predicate is nonfinite and nonverbal, nonstative, and the primary predicate is finite and shows split ergative agreement. Additionally a resultative secondary predicate construction is described.

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    • Polian, Gilles, and Francisco Javier Sánchez Gómez. 2010. Integración clausal y construcción depictiva en tseltal: La pérdida de la marca de persona como señal de integración. In La predicación secundaria en lenguas de Mesoamérica. Edited by Judith Aissen and Roberto Zavala, 33–60. Publicaciones de la Casa Chata. Mexico City: Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social.

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      Shows that a depictive secondary predicate construction can be identified for Tseltal as a type of a more general clause integration construction of juxtaposition.

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    • Vázquez Álvarez, Juan Jesús. 2010. Los depictivos analíticos en la lengua chol de Tila, Chiapas. In La predicación secundaria en lenguas de Mesoamérica. Edited by Judith Aissen and Roberto Zavala, 61–86. Publicaciones de la Casa Chata. Mexico City: Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social.

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      Chol shows some similarities to other Mayan languages, but additionally has a synthetic secondary predicate construction that is similar to constructions found in Mixe-Zoquean languages in which the secondary and primary predicates form a complex verbal compound.

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    Lexical Categories

    Berlin 1968, Craig 1986, and Zavala 2000 detail various categories of classifiers in Mayan languages, including numeral classifiers, sortal classifiers, noun classifiers, plural classifiers, and gestural classifiers. Baronti 2001 is a study of “affect words” (ideophones) in K’ichee’ and the sound symbolism they show, while Pérez González 2012 is a study of expressive predicates and ideophones in Tseltal. Martin 1977 is the first and classic study of the positional root class in Q’anjob’al, and Sántiz Gómez 2010 analyzes positionals in Tseltal. Aissen 1994 is a study of the syntax of motion auxiliaries in Tzotzil. All of these are among the special lexical categories that have been identified for Mayan languages.

    • Aissen, Judith. 1994. Tzotzil auxiliaries. Linguistics 32:657–690.

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      Classic syntactic analysis of motion verbs as auxiliaries in Tzotzil; the aim is to reconcile their head-like properties with their adjunct-like properties. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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    • Baronti, David Scott. 2001. Sound symbolism use in affect verbs in Santa Catarina Ixtahuacán. PhD diss., Univ. of California, Davis.

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      This is a study of sound symbolism and of the class of words known by Mayanists as “affect verbs” in K’iche’ (K’ichee’).

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    • Berlin, Brent. 1968. Tzeltal numeral classifiers: A study in ethnographic semantics. The Hague: Mouton.

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      The classic study of numeral classifiers in Tzeltal (Tseltal). More than four hundred classificatory morphemes are used with nouns when they are quantified.

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    • Craig, Colette G. 1986. Jacaltec noun classifiers: A study in grammaticalization. Lingua 70:241–284.

      DOI: 10.1016/0024-3841(86)90046-XSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      A classic study of noun classifiers in a Q’anjob’alan language. Recent innovations, they originate from nouns. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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    • Martin, Laura. 1977. Positional roots in Kanjobal (Mayan). PhD diss., Univ. of Florida.

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      The first full-length study of the class of positionals in a Mayan language.

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    • Pérez González, Jaime. 2012. Predicados expresivos e ideófonos en tseltal. MA thesis, Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social, Mexico City.

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      A detailed study of expressive predicates and ideophones (also called affect verbs and affect words in the Mayan literature) in Tseltal (Tzeltal), with attention to their phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics.

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    • Sántiz Gómez, Roberto. 2010. Raíces posicionales en tseltal de Oxchuc. MA thesis, Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social, Mexico City.

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      A thorough study of the positional class in Tseltal (Tzeltal), especially paying attention to the large number of ambivalent roots. It is accompanied by a 316-item positional dictionary.

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    • Zavala, Roberto. 2000. Multiple classifier systems in Akatek (Mayan). In Systems of nominal classification. Edited by Gunter Senft, 114–146. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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      Treats the fullest range of classifiers found in Mayan languages: classificatory suffixes on numbers, sortal numeral classifiers, a plural marker for humans, noun classifiers, plus a set of gestural classifiers. All of the kinds of classifiers described here are found in all of the Q’anjob’alan proper languages (Q’anjob’al, Akatek, Popti’).

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    Semantics and Pragmatics

    The study of nonlexical semantics and pragmatics in Mayan linguistics is still more or less in its infancy. Bohnemeyer 2002 is one of the few full-length semantic studies; it treats temporal reference and aspectual viewpoint. Bergqvist 2008 is a semantic and pragmatic study of time reference in the closely related Lakandon (Lakantun) Maya and finds significant differences from Yucatec Maya. Brown 2010 is a study of the pragmatics of questions in Tzeltal, and Verhoeven 2007 considers the syntactic structures that involve experiencers in Yucatec. Other work in semantics can be found under Cognition and Lexical Categories, while other works of interest to pragmatics is under Discourse.

    • Bergqvist, Jan Henrik Göran. 2008. Temporal reference in Lakandon Maya: Speaker- and event-perspectives. PhD diss., Endangered Languages Academic Programme, SOAS, Univ. of London.

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      Examines deictic time words in Lakandon, showing that they have features of meaning relating to the indexical ground, instead of to time reference proper. The study is placed in the context of the grammar of time and deixis and of differences between accessible experience (knowledge) and inaccessible experience (expectation).

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    • Bohnemeyer, Jürgen. 2002. The grammar of time reference in Yukatek Maya. LINCOM Studies in Native American Linguistics 44. Munich: Lincom.

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      Description of time reference in a tenseless language. Describes a complex system of marking aspectual viewpoint, shows that Yucatec distinguishes several degrees of temporal remoteness and that it does not mark absolute (deictic) tense or code relative (anaphoric) tenses. Yucatec has no temporal connectives that indicate event order relations between clauses.

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    • Brown, Penelope. 2010. Questions and their responses in Tzeltal. Journal of Pragmatics 42:2627–2648.

      DOI: 10.1016/j.pragma.2010.04.003Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Tzeltal is like other languages in terms of using polar questions with greater frequency than content questions, but it is unlike other languages in several respects, including the absence of visible-only responses to questions and the frequency with which answers are repeats. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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    • Verhoeven, Elisabeth. 2007. Experiential constructions in Yucatec Maya. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

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      A detailed syntactic and semantic study of experiential expressions in Yucatec, from a typological-functional perspective. Pays particular attention to the role of body or person part constructions in the expression of experiential constructions.

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    Discourse

    Studies of the grammar of discourse were greatly strengthened beginning in the 1980s. Norman 1980 specifies the grammatical rules that govern the production of parallel couplets in K’ichee’. Datz 1980 (on Popti’) and Brody 1982 (on Tojolabal) were two of the first major works on connections between syntactic structures and discourse processes in Mayan languages, and Brody 1986 extends the discussion of parallelism to an analysis of repetition in conversation, narrative, and ritual language. Du Bois 1987 is the culmination of a series of articles in which a discourse-based motivation for ergative alignment is proposed, using data from Sakapultek, and Martin 2003 looks at speaker choice and preferred argument structure in Mocho’. England 2009 shows how narrative tales in Mam are characterized by a combination of both grammatical and stylistic features. Larsen 1983 is an analysis of how several syntactic structures having to do with topicality and subjecthood can best be analyzed by looking at their occurrence in discourse.

    • Brody, Mary Jill. 1982. Discourse processes of highlighting in Tojolabal Maya Morphosyntax. PhD diss., Washington Univ.

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      Analyzes different discourse processes in Tojolabal, including contrastive phenomena, attitudinal processes, and different kinds of foregrounding and backgrounding, and connects them to different syntactic mechanisms through which they are accomplished.

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    • Brody, Jill. 1986. Repetition as a rhetorical and conversational device in Tojolabal (Mayan). International Journal of American Linguistics 52.3: 255–274.

      DOI: 10.1086/466022Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Examines repetition in conversation, narrative, and ritual language. Although partly shared among all three genres, specific patterns of repetition also distinguish them. Ritual speech and conversation are shown to be more like each other than they are like narrative in terms of the kinds of repetitions used. Available online by subscription.

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    • Datz, Margaret Dickeman. 1980. Jacaltec syntactic structures and the demands of discourse. PhD diss., Univ. of Colorado.

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      A discourse-centered analysis of topic and focus in Jacaltec (Popti’) in which syntactic structures and discourse patterns are examined.

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    • Du Bois, John W. 1987. The discourse basis of ergativity. Language 63.4: 805–855.

      DOI: 10.2307/415719Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      The culmination of a series of articles on a discourse-based motivation for ergativity, based on data from Sacapultec (Sakapultek). New information is preferentially correlated with the S/O pivot. Available online by subscription.

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    • England, Nora C. 2009. To tell a tale: The structure of narrated stories in Mam, a Mayan language. International Journal of American Linguistics 75.2: 207–231.

      DOI: 10.1086/596594Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Shows how narrative tales are defined by a constellation of grammatical and stylistic features, such as the use of adverbs, aspect markers, quoted dialogue, ideophones, and codas that place the narrative within local tradition. Available online by subscription.

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    • Larsen, Thomas W. 1983. Aguacatec syntax from a functional perspective. In Studies in Mesoamerican linguistics. Edited by Alice Schlichter, Wallace Chafe, and Leanne Hinton, 120–219. Report (Survey of California and Other Indian Languages) 4. Berkeley: Department of Linguistics, Univ. of California.

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      After a brief grammatical sketch, the rest of the study is devoted to an analysis of several syntactic phenomena through occurrence in texts, including the distribution of several particles and subordinate verb forms that have to do with topicality, and an analysis of subjecthood and transitivity.

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    • Martin, Laura. 2003. Narrator virtuosity and strategic exploitation of preferred argument structure in Mocho: Repetition and constructed speech in Mocho narrative. In Preferred argument structure: Grammar as architecture for function. Edited by John W. Du Bois, Lorraine E. Kumpf, and William J. Ashby, 411–435. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

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      Takes on the issue of individual choices in narrative and shows that these decisions, while averaging out to the expected norms for preferred argument structure, respond to local features of discourse construction that then interact with information structure.

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    • Norman, William M. 1980. Grammatical parallelism in Quiché ritual language. In Proceedings of the 6th annual meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society, 15–17 February 1975. Edited by Bruce Caron, 387–399. Berkeley, CA: Berkeley Linguistics Society.

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      Analyzes the well-known Mesoamerican phenomenon of parallelism in ritual speech in Quiché (K’ichee’), showing the grammatical rules for the construction of parallel lines.

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    Acquisition

    Language acquisition in Mayan languages and Mesoamerica in general is still understudied. Pye 1992 is a comprehensive report on acquisition in K’iche’ (K’ichee’) in which three children were studied over time. Pye, et al. 2007 compares the acquisition of verbs in five Mayan languages and represents work by almost everyone who is currently active in acquisition of Mayan languages. De León 2005 addresses language acquisition and socialization among Tzotzil children from anthropological, linguistic, and psychological perspectives. Brown 2000 investigates repetition and its role in the acquisition of Tzeltal, while Mateo Pedro 2010 studies the acquisition of verbal inflection among Q’anjob’al children.

    • Brown, Penelope. 2000. Conversational structure and language acquisition: The role of repetition in Tzeltal. Journal of Anthropological Linguistics 8.2: 197–221.

      DOI: 10.1525/jlin.1998.8.2.197Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Tzeltal children beginning to speak use predominantly verb roots rather than nouns. This is attributed to the prevalence of dialogic repetition in Tzeltal, which highlights new information and particularly verbs, as well as other more familiar characteristics of the speech context. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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    • de León, Lourdes. 2005. La llegada del alma: Lenguaje, infancia y socialización entre los mayas de Zinacantán. Mexico City: Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social, Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, and Consejo Nacional de Culturas y Artes.

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      Interdisciplinary study that uses methodological tools of anthropology, linguistics, and developmental psychology on language acquisition and socialization among Tzotzil children.

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    • Mateo Pedro, Pedro. 2010. The acquisition of verb inflection morphology in Q’anjob’al Maya: A longitudinal study. PhD diss., Univ. of Kansas.

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      In this longitudinal study of three children learning Q’anjob’al, Mateo Pedro shows that children are likely to produce the suffixed inflectional morphology of verbs while omitting the prefixed inflections. They do not produce a default verb form, although they do produce bare verb stems.

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    • Pye, Clifton. 1992. The acquisition of K’iche’ Maya. In The crosslinguistic study of language acquisition. Vol. 3. Edited by Dan Slobin, 221–308. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

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      Comprehensive study of acquisition based on following three children during nine months and three other children for a briefer but more intensive period. Ages range between two years one month and four years even.

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    • Pye, Clifton, Barbara Pfeiler, Lourdes de León, Penelope Brown, and Pedro Mateo Pedro. 2007. Roots or edges? Explaining variation in children’s early verb forms across five Mayan languages. In Learning indigenous languages: Child language acquisition in Mesoamerica. Edited by Barbara Pfeiler, 15–46. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

      DOI: 10.1515/9783110923148Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Examines acquisition of verbs in K’iche’, Tzeltal, Tzotzil, Q’anjob’al, and Yucatec. Shows that children learning Tzeltal and Tzotzil initially produce mostly bare roots, while children learning the other three languages produce root-suffix combinations. The difference is attributed to differences in the structure of the input that children receive.

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    Languages, Societies, Cultures

    Studies of Mayan languages have been groundbreaking in this area. The section is broken down into subsections: Context, Cognition, Language Identities and Vitality, and Language Use.

    Context

    Hanks 1990 and Hanks 2005 consider deixis from both linguistic and cultural/pragmatic perspectives, connecting a grammatical system with verbal practice and cultural context in Yucatec Maya. Haviland 2004 analyzes evidential markers in Tzotzil (Mayan), showing how they can be manipulated by a “master speaker” for conveying a variety of meanings derived from the context of speaking. Kockelman 2007 analyzes time and temporality in Q’eqchi’ (Mayan) from social and cultural as well as linguistic perspectives.

    Cognition

    Levinson and Haviland 1994, Bohnemeyer and Stolz 2006, and Brown 2006 analyze spatial reference in Mayan languages, addressing issues in diversity and cognition originating in the Max Planck Institute space project. Bohnemeyer 2011 and Polian and Bohnemeyer 2011 report on spatial frames of reference in a new space project directed by Bohnemeyer. Lucy 1992 and Danziger 2001 address the Whorfian hypothesis with data from two Yucatecan Mayan languages. Lucy works on nominal number in Yucatec Maya and Danziger on kinship terminology in Mopan. MacLaury 1991 is part of a much larger project of some historical importance on color terminology in Mesoamerican languages; it reports on differences that were encountered in Tzeltal and Tzotzil.

    • Bohnemeyer, Jürgen. 2011. Spatial frames of reference in Yucatec: Referential promiscuity and task-specificity. Language Sciences 33:892–914.

      DOI: 10.1016/j.langsci.2011.06.009Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Two different experimental tasks had different results with regard to frames of reference. In a communication task, speakers switched among and combined different frames of reference while in a memory task the responses were consistent with geocentric frames of reference. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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    • Bohnemeyer, Jürgen, and Christel Stolz. 2006. Spatial reference in Yukatek Maya: A survey. In Grammars of space: Explorations in cognitive diversity. Edited by Stephen C. Levinson and David P. Wilkins, 273–310. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

      DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511486753Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Yukatek Maya speakers mostly use an intrinsic frame of reference for spatial reference, but they also use observer-based and absolutely grounded frames of reference. Ground-denoting expressions are underspecified in descriptions of spatial configurations and motion events. Motion in Yukatek is presented as a change of location with respect to individual grounds.

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    • Brown, Penelope. 2006. A sketch of the grammar of space in Tzeltal. In Grammars of space: Explorations in cognitive diversity. Edited by Stephen C. Levinson and David P. Wilkins, 230–272. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

      DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511486753Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Reports on field research in Tzeltal. Shows that many verb roots have meanings that include a spatial element, locative descriptions rely on the figure and deemphasize the ground, deictic centering is avoided when relating location to ground but is central when describing an object in motion, and absolute orientation is used.

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    • Danziger, Eve. 2001. Relatively speaking: Language, thought, and kinship among the Mopan Maya. Oxford Studies in Anthropological Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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      A study in linguistic relativity based on Mopan (Maya) kinship terminology, using linguistic, psycholinguistic, cognitive, and anthropological models and approaches to data analysis. It concludes that testing the acquisition of certain terms among children supports the psychological reality of linguistic relativity.

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    • Levinson, Stephen C., and John B. Haviland, eds. 1994. Special issue: Spatial conceptualization in Mayan languages. Linguistics 32.4–5.

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      This special issue consists of six articles on space in Tzotzil, Tzeltal, Mopan, and Yucatec Maya, with an introduction by Levinson and Haviland. Most of the work was part of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics space project. Articles available online for purchase or by subscription.

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    • Lucy, John A. 1992. Grammatical categories and cognition. Studies in the Social and Cultural Foundation of Language 13. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

      DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511620713Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Examines the proposal that “differences among languages in the grammatical structuring of meaning influence habitual thought” (p. 1) by comparing the grammatical treatment of nominal number in English and Yucatec Maya.

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    • MacLaury, Robert E. 1991. Social and cognitive motivations of change: Measuring variability in color semantics. Language 67.1: 34–62.

      DOI: 10.2307/415538Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Presents results on Tzeltal and Tzotzil, as part of MacLaury’s massive project on color in Mesoamerican languages, and addresses variation between closely related communities and how that relates to category change and to differences between cognition and perception. Available online by subscription.

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    • Polian, Gilles, and Jürgen Bohnemeyer. 2011. Uniformity and variation in Tseltal reference frame use. Language Sciences 33:868–891.

      DOI: 10.1016/j.langsci.2011.06.010Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      This paper reports on new data in Tseltal that shows that the use of absolute frames of reference varies as a correlation of the salience of different topographical features, which the authors view as affecting but not determining the use of frames of reference.

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    Language Identities and Vitality

    Garzon, et al. 1998 discusses three case studies of Kaqchikel (Maya) language shift, and French 2010 connects Kaqchikel linguistic identity to national leadership and local practice. Maddox 2010 takes one of the cases reported in Garzon, et al. 1998 and, in a restudy, suggests that some language recovery has been initiated through linguistic age-differentiated behavior. Collins 2005 also addresses reverse language shift as a result of language ideologies among teachers, and Barrett 2008 connects reversing language shift to a new resistance to code-switching and to the use of structures that are identified with Spanish.

    • Barrett, Rusty. 2008. Linguistic differentiation and Mayan language revitalization in Guatemala. Journal of Sociolinguistics 12.3: 275–305.

      DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9841.2008.00368.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      A study of generational differences in code-switching and syntactic patterns among speakers of Sipakapense showing that younger speakers code-switch less and resist using syntactic structures that are thought to be more like Spanish. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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    • Collins, Wesley M. 2005. Codeswitching avoidance as a strategy for Mam (Maya) linguistic revitalization. International Journal of American Linguistics 71.3: 239–276.

      DOI: 10.1086/497872Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      Shows that more educated speakers of Mam, especially teachers, code-switch at a lower rate than less educated speakers and considers the effects this might have on reversing language shift. Available online by subscription.

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    • French, Brigittine M. 2010. Maya ethnolinguistic identity: Violence, cultural rights, and modernity in highland Guatemala. Tucson: Univ. of Arizona Press.

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      Studies linguistic identities among Kaqchikel Mayas in Guatemala, discussing roles, beliefs, and practices among a self-conscious Maya linguistic leadership and among an ordinary central highland local population.

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    • Garzon, Susan, R. McKenna Brown, Julia Becker Richards, and Wuqu’ Ajpub’. 1998. The life of our language: Kaqchikel Maya maintenance, shift, and revitalization. Austin: Univ. of Texas Press.

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      Three case studies of language shift, maintenance, and revitalization in different Kaqchikel Maya towns, plus a chapter on language contact experiences by a Kaqchikel speaker.

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    • Maddox, Marc C. 2010. Chwa’q chik iwonojel: Language affect, ideology, and intergenerational language use patterns in the Quinizilapa valley of highland Guatemala. PhD diss., Tulane Univ.

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      A restudy of the Kaqchikel town of San Antonio Aguas Calientes and surrounding communities (first studied by R. McKenna Brown twenty years previously) that investigates to what extent predicted language loss has occurred. One of the conclusions is that Kaqchikel transmission is becoming age-graded (older speakers show increasing fluency); thus, a failure on the part of children to learn the language does not necessarily signal language death.

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    Language Use

    Victoria Bricker, Gary Gossen, and John Haviland were all part of the Harvard Chiapas Project and addressed different issues of Tzotzil (Maya) language use. Bricker 1973 looks at verbal humor in ritual settings, Haviland 1977 looks at the cultural use of gossip, and Gossen 1974 defines genres of speech in Tzotzil. Romero 2006 is a classic variationist study of language change in K’ichee’ (Maya).

    • Bricker, Victoria R. 1973. Ritual humor in highland Chiapas. Austin: Univ. of Texas Press.

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      A study of verbal humor in ritual settings in three Tzotzil (Maya) towns. Provides the social and cultural context for this kind of humor and compares the differences found in the three towns.

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    • Gossen, Gary H. 1974. Chamulas in the world of the sun: Time and space in a Maya oral tradition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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      The definitional study of genres of speaking among the Tzotzil Maya.

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    • Haviland, John B. 1977. Gossip, reputation, and knowledge in Zinacantan. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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      Examines the genre of gossip from linguistic, cultural, and social perspectives, detailing the linguistic resources that are available in gossip as well as the ethnographic context for gossip and the cultural competence that being able to gossip entails.

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    • Romero, Sergio. 2006. Sociolinguistic variation and linguistic history in Mayan: The case of K’ichee’. PhD diss., Univ. of Pennsylvania.

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      Language variation and change in Santa María Chiquimula (K’ichee’). Examines phonological, morphological, and lexical variables from the colonial period through the early 20th century as well as contemporary data. Concludes that language diversification in K’ichee’ is mostly due to internal forces.

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    LAST MODIFIED: 04/22/2013

    DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199772810-0147

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