Mayan Historical Linguistics and Epigraphy: A New Synthesis

  title={Mayan Historical Linguistics and Epigraphy: A New Synthesis},
  author={S{\o}ren Wichmann},
  journal={Annual Review of Anthropology},
  • S. Wichmann
  • Published 19 September 2006
  • Linguistics
  • Annual Review of Anthropology
Recent years have seen rapid advancement in our understanding of the phonology and grammar of Classic Ch'olan and the distribution of Lowland Mayan languages in the Classic period. The control over the data has advanced to such an extent that Classic Ch'olan should no longer be considered chiefly a product of reconstruction, but rather a language in its own right, providing fresh input to historical reconstruction. The interpretation of writing system principles has moved into the forefront of… 

Figures and Tables from this paper

  • M. Kelly
  • Linguistics
    Contributions in New World Archaeology
  • 2019
Long prior to the arrival of the Spanish to the New World, ancient Maya history relates tales of contact and conquest among the inhabitants of the Maya region. Composed of a set of related but
The Scribe ’ s Hand Betrays His Tongue : Diglossia Among the Ancient Maya
During the Classic period (AD 250-900), the Maya of Southeastern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Western Honduras institutionalized a hieroglyphic writing system. Classic Maya texts detail political
Language Contact, Inherited Similarity and Social Difference: The story of linguistic interaction in the Maya lowlands
This book offers a study of long-term, intensive language contact between more than a dozen Mayan languages spoken in the lowlands of Guatemala, Southern Mexico and Belize. It details the massive
The Non-Existent May Cycle: Methods, Colonial Texts and Epigraphy
The Non-Existent May Cycle: Methods, Colonial Texts and Epigraphy. More than three decades ago, Munro Edmonson suggested that Postclassic Yukatek Maya political organisation was based on a 256-year
Abstract This paper presents new evidence for hierarchy and power among the Classic Maya (a.d. 300–1000) from the northern lowlands. It expands the list of identified emblem glyphs, and, more
Mesoamerican Lexical Calques in Ancient Maya Writing and Imagery
The PARI Journal 14(2), 2013,1-15. ancient cultural interactions which might otherwise go undetected. What follows is a preliminary treatment of a small sample of Mesoamerican lexical calques as
Hieroglyphic Texting: Ideologies and Practices of Classic Maya Written Evidence
  • S. Jackson
  • Sociology
    Cambridge Archaeological Journal
  • 2020
Given current interests in indigenous ontologies and multiple worldviews, archaeologists drawing on textual evidence must more fully contextualize ancient texts according to how they were perceived
Replicating Writing: Moulding and Stamping Hieroglyphs on Classic Maya Ceramics
A fundamental distinction is made in craft production between custom or bespoke creation and mechanical reproduction that generates multiple iterations of the same form. In Mesoamerica, technologies
Presencia y distribución de la lengua maya yucateka en la península de Yucatán del clásico al posclásico tardío.
The presence and distribution of speakers of the Yucatekan Maya language in the Yucatan Peninsula from the early classic until the time of contact with the Spaniards are studied through an analysis
Language mixing and genetic similarity: The case of Tojol-ab’al
The Mayan language Tojol-ab’al displays a mixture of linguistic features from two related Mayan languages, Chuj and Tseltal, and arguably represents a distinct type of mixed language, one that may only result from mixture involving related languages.


The Language of Classic Maya Inscriptions1
It is explored by exploring the possibility that Ch’olti’an was a prestige language that was shared by elites, literati, and priests and had a profound effect on personal and group status in ancient Maya kingdoms.
Mayan Linguistics: Where Are We Now?
In the last ten years the study of Mayan languages has seen both tremendous advances and setbacks. Lamentable political events in Central America. parti­ cularly in Guatemala . have stalled some
Phoneticism in Mayan Hieroglyphic Writing
A classic in the literature on the decipherment of Mayan writing, "Phoneticism" grew out of the famous Albany conference - a gathering of the leading Mayanists who were working within the modern,
The History of Tense/Aspect/Mood/Voice in the Mayan Verbal Complex
Mayan civilization, renowned for its mathematics, writing, architecture, religion, calendrics, and agriculture, fascinates scholars and a wide lay public as archaeology and glyphic decipherment
Dictionary of Maya Hieroglyphs
This authoritative work is the first visual dictionary of Maya glyphs published since the script's complete deciphering, offering a much-needed, comprehensive catalogue of 1100 secured glyphs. Each
Into the Minds of Ancients: Advances in Maya Glyph Studies
A decade of Maya glyphic decipherment creates many opportunities for historical, linguistic, cultural, and archaeological interpretation. New evidence points to improvements in understanding
Antipassive Constructions in the Maya Glyphic Texts
The Classic Maya hieroglyphic texts of the Southern Lowlands provide morphological and syntactic evidence for antipassive constructions. Two sets of signs, wa/wi and ni, are involved in the relevant
Split Ergativity in the History of the Ch’olan Branch of the Mayan Language Family
An unchallenged assumption regarding the linguistic history of the Ch’olan branch of the Mayan language family is that this common language was “split ergative”—demonstrating an ergative/absolutive
A ch'olti'an explanation for ch'orti'an grammar: a postlude to the language of the Classic Maya
guage, as recorded in the 1695 grammar of Pedro Moran, is generally held to be related to but separate from the modern language of Ch’orti’ (see Kaufman’s 1976 classification, for example). Ch’olti’
On the representation of the glottal stop in Maya writing
In Houston et al. (this volume, 1998) the idea is proposed that the nonidentity of the vocalic part of signs that serve to spell morphemes (henceforth morphemic vowels) and the vocalic part of signs