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Yucatec Maya language

From Academic Kids

Yucatec Maya is a Maya language spoken in the Yucatan Peninsula, northern Belize and parts of Guatemala. To native speakers, it is known only as Maya - Yucatec is a tag linguists use to distinguish it from other Mayan languages (such as the Quich頬anguage and the Lacandon language).

Yucatec Maya is written in the Latin script. This was introduced during the Spanish Conquest of Yucatan and the old Spanish orthography of that time was used (which included the use of "x" for the postalveolar fricative sound spelled "sh" in English, a sound that in Spanish has since turned into a uvular fricative nowadays spelled "j", except in a few orthographic archaisms such as "M鸩co"). In colonial times a reversed "c" was often used for the sound now more usually written "dz". The Maya were literate in Pre-Columbian times, when the language was written using Maya hieroglyphs. The language itself can be traced back some 5000 years, derived from the Classic Maya language dialect Yucatecan.

A distinctive feature of spoken Yucatec (also found in many other Mayan languages) is the use of glottalised consonants - mainly "p", "t", and "k". These are often pronounced with a glottal stop just before they are spoken, resulting in a small popping sound as the sound is spoken. This is written using an apostrophe right after the letter, for example k'ux k'a k'al (It's hot out.) The apostrophes indicating the hard sounds were not common in written Maya until the 20th century, but are now preferred.

Yucatec is an agglutinative language and so because of this many words in Yucatec can end up being very long. There are a great number of root words, prefixes, suffixes and affixes utilised in Yucatec Mayan.

Like all Mayan languages, Yucatec is VSO and an ergative language.

In the Yucatan, it is many speakers' first language today, especially in rural areas.

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