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Maya Glyphs

Maya Glyphs
The Verbs

A comprehensive study of the verb morphology and syntax of the Maya writing system.

November 1982
This is a print-on-demand title. Expedited shipping is not available.
440 pages | 8.5 x 11 |

The key to the study of the language and history of the Classic Maya (A.D. 293–900) is the verb. Maya Glyphs: The Verbs is a comprehensive study of the verb morphology and syntax of the Maya writing system.

Linda Schele's summary of methodology makes available in a single place many important discoveries and approaches to the Maya language. Hers is the first sourcebook to include so broad a range of dates and to identify for the first time so many Maya rulers and events.

The admirably lucid text provides an excellent introduction to Maya hieroglyphics for the beginner, and, for the experienced Mayanist, it offers a fascinating explanation of methodology, including paraphrasing, and important information about syntactical structures, special verbal constructions, and literary conventions.

Schele's extensive catalog of known verbal phrases is useful for a variety of purposes. Because it is organized according to verbal affix patterns, it provides the only available source for the distribution of such patterns in the writing system. At the same time it registers the date of each event, its agent and patient (if recorded), the dedication date of the monument on which the glyphs occur, and a pictorial illustration, rather than a T-number transcription, of each example. Extensive notes treating problems of dating, interpretation, and dynastic information contain theories about the meaning and function of the events recorded in the Maya inscriptions.


  • Acknowledgments
  • Abbreviations
  • Introduction
  • 1. A Historical Perspective
  • 2. Verb Morphology and Syntax of Spoken Mayan
  • 3. Identification of Verbal Phrases
  • 4. The Directional “Count” Indicators
  • 5. Syntax of the Writing System
  • 6. Redundancy, Couplets, and Style
  • 7. General Verbs and Auxiliary Verb Constructions
  • 8. Some Unusual Examples of Syntax
  • 9. The Verb Catalog
  • Appendices
    • 1. The Patterns of Affixation in the Writing System
    • 2. Verbs and Affix Patterns According to T-Numbers
    • 3. Catalog Summary According to Site and Monument Designation
    • 4. Summary of the Chronology of the Verbs
    • 5. Split-ergativity in the Cholan and Yucatecan Languages by Barbara MacLeod
  • References

Linda Schele (1942–1998) was the John D. Murchison Regents Professor of Art in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Texas at Austin, and was an internationally recognized authority on deciphering the Maya script.


“This is the work of brilliant and dedicated scholarship, and it will be a necessity for both pedants and buffs for the foreseeable future.”
South Eastern Latin Americanist

“... certainly the most important work on Mayan glyphic studies in a very long time.”
David H. Kelley