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The Linguistic Situation of Yucatec Maya, the Mayan Language of Yucatan

Rodrigo Gutiérrez-Bravo     

Colegio de México, México

Yucatec Maya is the Mayan language currently spoken by about 800,000 people who are the direct descendents of the Maya who lived in the Yucatán peninsula before first contact with Europeans. This general-public talk will present an overview of the social context in which the indigenous languages of Mexico in general, and Yucatec Maya in particular, cohabitate as minority languages with Spanish. This will include the challenges faced by a language spoken predominantly in rural areas in the context of the process of migration to urban areas. Then there will be a presentation of the basic aspects of the kind of research that is involved when a linguist studies a language with no written tradition, such as a case of Yucatec Maya. Finally, the complex contact situation between Spanish and Yucatec Maya will be addressed. Here we will see that this situation is quite unlike that observed between other indigenous languages and Spanish elsewhere in Mexico, with both languages having influenced one another significantly over the course of the almost 500 years that they have been in contact.

October 15, 2014