Mayan Language Research Paper

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The ancient Maya independently developed a number of complex verbal and written languages, that were crucial to their culture. Today, 31 Mayan languages are spoken by modern Maya people. These languages all take their roots from older Mayan languages, which originate from the hypothetical language “Proto-Mayan”, which is theorized to have been born in the highlands of what is now Guatemala around 4000 years ago. Mesoamerican societies are special in that they are one of very few societies (Mesoamericans, the Syro-Palestinians, Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Chinese, and people of the Indus valley) to have independently created a written and spoken language. All other languages, including English, take their foundations from the languages of those …show more content…
For example, all Mayan languages are ergative-absolutive, which means that the arrangements of words goes verb-subject-object, rather than subject-verb-object as it does in English. However, there also many regional differences among Mayan languages. Many of these differences occur in the way the languages are transcribed. Ancient Mayan languages were written in a complex mixture of logographic and syllabic script using glyphs. Variation occurred not only regionally but also varied among scribes. Two notable examples of regional variation in writing are in Northern Yucatan, where dates where written in much more condensed form than was typical, and in what is now Southern Belize where glyphs were written much more compactly and in irregular compositions (See example in Appendix. …show more content…
Diego De Landa, a Spanish Bishop who was the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Yucatán, misguidedly attempted to create a Mayan alphabet, which contained very few of the hundreds of glyphs used by the Maya (See in Appendix, Fig. 3). The Spaniards burned all but four Maya books, and made it illegal to write in Mayan glyphs, essentially wiping out written literacy in Mayan languages. Despite their best efforts, however, the Spaniards were unable to eradicate the use of Mayan languages by the Maya people. Today, Mayan languages are an important part of the cultural identity of the modern Maya people. 31 living Mayan languages are spoken by the modern Maya in Mesoamerica, the most commonly used of which is K’iche Mayan, which is spoken by around 2.3 million people, some of whom are monolingual users. Most speakers of K’iche Mayan live in the Guatemalan

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