Mayan Languages

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Ixnal, a Maya woman, teaching us Kaqchikel

The Kaqchikel, or Kaqchiquel, language (in modern orthography; formerly also spelled Cakchiquel or Cakchiquiel) is an indigenous Mesoamerican language and a member of the Quichean–Mamean branch of the Mayan languages family. It is spoken by the indigenous Kaqchikel people in central Guatemala. It is closely related to the K’iche’ (Quiché) and Tz’utujil languages.

Remember we are using ‘Mayan’ here, rather than ‘Maya’, as we are talking about the language. For everything else, it is Maya.


A map showing where it is (and other Mayan languages are) spoken

Greeting Dialogue

Between two people:

Person A: Saqär k’a?                                                               (Sa-ka kaa)

Person B: Saqär matyőx                                                          (Sa-ka ma-tiosh)

Person A: Ütz awäch?                                                              (Ootz a-watch)

Person B: Ütz matyőx – la ütz awätch rat?                        (Ootz ma-tioch – la ootz a-watch rat)

Person A: Ütz matyőx                                                               (Ootz ma-tiosh)

Person B: Matyőx k’ari’                                                            (Ma-tioch k’aree)


The k’ in the last line makes a sound known as a glottal stop, not a sound made in English.  It is a short, sharp sound made at the back of the throat which is immediately cut off by the back of the tongue – not easy to do, but fun for a class!

For a class:

Teacher:  Saqär k’a?

Class/Pupil: Saqär tij’onel                     (tij’onel = teacher)


Saqär k’a is the greeting used in the morning.  The times of day are reflected by the movement of the Sun and greetings alter accordingly, depending on what time of day it is.


Saqär k’a? Is used for the rising of the Sun

Xqaq’ij k’a? Is used for the setting of the Sun

Xokaq’a k’a? Is used at night



Rin nub’i’ [name]          I am [name]

Rat ab’i’ [name]            You are [name]

Rija rub’i’ [name]           He is [name]

Roq qab’i [names]        We are [names]

Rix rub’i’ [names]          They are [names] /informal/

Rije kib’i’ [names]          They are [names] /formal/



Further resources


One Response to "Mayan Languages"
  1. Shanna says:

    This really helped me

    • School: Homeschool

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