The Life of Our Language
Kaqchikel Maya Maintenance, Shift, and Revitalization
255 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
Sales Date: August 1, 1998
The native Maya peoples of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and Belize have been remarkably successful in maintaining their cultural identity during centuries of contact with and domination by outside groups. Yet change is occurring in all Mayan communities as contact with Spanish-speaking Ladino society increases. This book explores change and continuity in one of the most vital areas of Mayan culture—language use.
The authors look specifically at Kaqchikel, one of the most commonly spoken Mayan languages. Following an examination of language contact situations among indigenous groups in the Americas, the authors proceed to a historical overview of the use of Kaqchikel in the Guatemalan Highlands. They then present case studies of three highland communities in which the balance is shifting between Kaqchikel and Spanish. Wuqu' Ajpub', a native Kaqchikel speaker, gives a personal account of growing up negotiating between the two languages and the different world views they encode. The authors conclude with a look at the Mayan language revitalization movement and offer a scenario in which Kaqchikel and other Mayan languages can continue to thrive.
This is a very readable book, which, without sacrificing accuracy, will be understandable, useful, and interesting to the general reader; and it will be vital reading for students of Maya studies, both with linguistic and social interests.~Brian Stross
- 1. Introduction (Susan Garzon)
- 2. Indigenous Groups and Their Language Contact Relations (Susan Garzon)
- 3. A Brief Cultural History of the Guatemalan Highlands (R. McKenna Brown)
- 4. Case Study One: San Marcos La Laguna (Julia Becker Richards)
- 5. Case Study Two: San Antonio Aguas Calientes and the Quinizilapa Valley (R. McKenna Brown)
- 6. Case Study Three: San Juan Comalapa (Susan Garzon)
- 7. Mayan Language Revitalization in Guatemala (R. McKenna Brown)
- 8. Language Contact Experiences of a Mayan Speaker (Wuqu' Ajpub' [Arnulfo Simón], Translated by Michael Dordick)
- 9. Conclusions (Susan Garzon)