Introduction

Authored by: Judith Aissen , Nora C. England , Roberto Zavala Maldonado

The Mayan Languages

Print publication date:  May  2017
Online publication date:  May  2017

Print ISBN: 9780415738026
eBook ISBN: 9781315192345
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315192345.ch1

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Abstract

This is a book about the Mayan languages. No such comprehensive work has been published in English, so this is a first for a relatively well-known language family. There are more or less thirty extant Mayan languages spoken in Guatemala, Mexico, and Belize (in this volume see Law for a map of the contemporary languages, Campbell for an overview of Mayan historical and comparative linguistics, and Campbell or Kaufman for family relationships). They range between very small (under thirty speakers, for instance Itzaj) to quite large (close to a million speakers, for instance K’iche’). While the Mayan family is among the most robust in Latin America, there are signs of language shift, with some children in at least some communities not learning to speak the language of their forebears. Most of the languages, however, have speakers in most age groups and most are used in daily activities to varying extents (see Haviland, this volume, on Mayan conversation and interaction and Romero, this volume, on social factors in language variation).

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