The Language of Classic Maya Inscriptions1

  title={The Language of Classic Maya Inscriptions1},
  author={Stephen Houston and John S. Robertson and David Stuart},
  journal={Current Anthropology},
  pages={321 - 356}
Recent decipherments of Classic Maya hieroglyphs (ca. a.d. 250 to 850) reveal phonological and morphological patterns that, through epigraphic and historical analyses, isolate a single, coherent prestige language with unique and widespread features in script. We term this language “Classic Ch’olti’an” and present the evidence for its explicable historical configuration and ancestral affiliation with Eastern Ch’olan languages (Ch’olti’ and its still‐viable descendant, Ch’orti’). We conclude by… 
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
Mayan Historical Linguistics and Epigraphy: A New Synthesis
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
Evidence for linguistic conservatism in the hieroglyphic script of the Central Petén
Recent research has shown that the Classic Period Maya script (AD 250-950) represents a single prestige language, Classic Ch’olti’an. It was used across the Maya Lowlands, yet local languages and
Writing color: Words and images of colors in Classic Maya inscriptions
The Classic Maya, whose city-states thrived between a.d. 300 and 850 in parts of present-day Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras, stand apart from other pre-Columbian cultures in that their
From Field to Hearth: An Earthly Interpretation of Maya and Other Mesoamerican Creation Myths
Ancient Maya mythology may perplex the modern student. As recorded in inscriptions, mythological episodes are cryptically short, speak of obscure places and entities, and leave much to the reader
Abstract Advances in hieroglyphic decipherment and in language contact typology provide new data and theories with which to investigate and reassess prior interpretations of Mayan linguistic history.
Jeroglíficos y arqueología maya: ¿colusión o colisión?
History and archaeology both provide information on the ancient Maya past. Historical personages, however, capture the imagination far more than architectural buildings and broken sherds. Thus, the
Archaic Origins of the Lowland Maya
  • J. Lohse
  • History
    Latin American Antiquity
  • 2010
The earliest Lowland Maya are commonly recognized by permanent architecture and the appearance of pottery. However, when other lines of evidence are considered, strong continuities with late Archaic
The Maya Codices
AbstractResearch over the past decade has significantly advanced our understanding of the prehispanic Maya codices, both in terms of their content (i.e., hieroglyphic texts, calendrical structure,
Reflexiones en torno a la historia de las relaciones entre tojolabales, tseltales y chujes
This work stems from the consideration that the Tojolabal language is mixed: it comes from the contact between Tseltal and Chuj, according to recent linguistic studies. Taking this into


The phonetic decipherment of Mayan glyphs
The complete decipherment of Mayan glyphs is an event that neither we, nor perhaps our children, shall ever see: the script is tortuously complicated, as many hieroglyphic writing systems are, and
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
Archaeological and linguistic correlations in Mayaland and associated areas of Meso‐America
Abstract A sketch of the linguistic, geographic and temporal diversification of the Mayan language‐family is offered, and correlations with archaeological discoveries are suggested in many cases.
The origin of writing systems: Preclassic Mesoamerica
Abstract This paper focuses on the origins of Mesoamerican writing, analyzing remains of precursor systems in terms of the linguistic and graphic resources for the emergence of written language. This
The Shifting Now: Aspect, Deixis, and Narrative in Classic Maya Texts
Abundant and complex, Maya hieroglyphic texts serve as a crucial resource for understanding pre-Columbian narrative. This essay documents and discusses the discursive structure of Maya texts. New
  • D. Nurse
  • Linguistics
    The Journal of African History
  • 1997
The work of historical and comparative linguists has long interested African historians. By classifying languages into families, linguists provide models of their historical development that may
Advances in Maya Epigraphy
During the past twenty years, significant progress has been made in determining the nature of the Maya script, the subjects covered in the monumental inscriptions, the grammatical structure of Maya
At the Interface of Archaeology, Linguistics and Genetics: Indoeuropean Dispersals and the Agricultural Transition in Europe
AbstractIndo-European languages are believed to have spread through population movements from the original epicentre. In recent years, this diffusion and divergence of languages from the
From Symbol to Icon: The Evolution of the Pronominal System from Common Mayan to Modern Yucatecan
A drastic restructuring of the Common Mayan system of pronouns resulted in the Modern Yucatecan pronominal system. This restructuring involved, first of all, a paradigmatic regularization of new,
Of gods, glyphs and kings: divinity and rulership among the Classic Maya
The ANTIQUITY prize-winning article in the last volume addressed writing, its varying nature and role in early states. Now that the decipherment of Maya writing is well advanced, we can know more of