Ixil language

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Ixil
Native to Guatemala
Region Quiché Department
Ethnicity Ixil
Native speakers
69,000  (1998)[1]
to 140,000 (2001)[2]
Mayan
Language codes
ISO 639-3 ixl
Glottolog ixil1251[3]

Ixil-Maya is one of the 21 different Mayan languages spoken in the Central American country of Guatemala. According to historical linguistic studies Ixil emerged as a separate language sometime around the year 500AD.[4] It is the primary language of the Ixil Community, which comprises the three towns of San Juan Cotzal, Santa Maria Nebaj, and San Gaspar Chajul in the Guatemalan highlands. There is also an Ixil speaking migrant population in Guatemala City and the United States. Although there are slight differences in vocabulary in the dialects spoken by people in the three different Ixil towns, they are all mutually intelligible and should be considered dialects of a single language.

Phonology[edit]

Vowels[edit]

Short Front Central Back
Close u [ŭ]
Near-Close i [ɪ̆]*
Mid o [ŏ]
Mid-low e [ɜ̆]
Open a [ɐ̆]

Note [*]: the IPA classifies the vowel [ɪ] as near-close near-front, not as central.

Long Front Central Back
High ii [iː]
uu [yː]
Close-mid ee [eː]
oo [øː]
Open aa [aː]


A notable feature of Ixil is that all short vowels are either central or back vowels and all long vowels are front vowels. This is a unique feature not found in other Mayan languages. As an exception some speakers do not pronounce 'oo' as the front vowel [øː] but rather as back vowel [oː] and some speakers also pronounce 'i' as the front vowel [i] rather than the near-close vowel [ɪ]. Short vowels are very short in Ixil and long 'uu' [yː] is extra long and stressed.

Consonants[edit]

Bilabial Alveolar Postalveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Normal Palatalized
Plosive Normal p [p̪ʰ] t [tʰ] k [kʰ] ky [kʰʲ] q [qʰ] ' [ʲʔ]
Ejective t' [tʼ] k' [kʼ] ky'[kʼʲ]
Implosive b' [ɓ] q' [ʛ]
Nasal m [m] n [n] nh [ŋ]
Fricative v [v~f] z [s] xh [ɕ] x [ʃ] j [χ]
Affricate Normal tz [t͡sʰ] ch [t͡ɕʰ] tx [ʈ͡ʂʰ]
Ejective tz' [t͡sʼ~dzʼ] ch' [t͡ɕʼ~dʑʼ] tx' [ʈ͡ʂʼ~ɖʐʼ]
Flap r [ɾ]
Approximant w [ʋ] l [l] y [j]

Grammar[edit]

Ixil pronominals are discerned between ergative ones and absolutive ones.[5] A notable feature of the language's grammar is its ambiguity in discerning reflexive from reciprocal pronouns.[6]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Ixil at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Noj, Mario Ruben. 2001. Manual de Interpretación del Mapa Linguistico de Guatemala, Editorial Nojib'sa.
  3. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Ixil". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  4. ^ Colby, Benjamin N., Pierre L. van den Berghe. 1977. Ixiles y Ladinos: El Pluralism Social en el Altiplano de Guatemala. Guatemala: Editorial "Jose de Pineda Ibarra". p. 57.
  5. ^ "Toward a Dialectology of Ixil Maya: Variation across Communities and Individuals" Thomas E. Lengyel
  6. ^ "Reflexive and Reciprocal Elements in Ixil", ERIC: ED353802, Glenn Ayres, 1990.

Bibliography[edit]

Asicona Ramírez, Lucas, Domingo Méndez Rivera, Rodrigo Domingo Xinic Bop. 1998. Diccionario Ixil de San Gaspar Chajul. La Antigua Guatemala: Proyecto Linguistico Francisco Marroquín.
Cedillo Chel, Antonio, Juan Ramírez. 1999. Diccionario del idioma ixil de Santa María Nebaj. La Antigua Guatemala: Proyecto Linguistico Francisco Marroquín.
Programa de Rescate Cultural Maya-Ixil. 1995. Aq'b'al Elu'l Yol Vatzsaj: Diccionario Ixil. Guatemala City: Cholsamaj.
Ayers, Glenn Thompson. 1991. Gramática Ixil. La Antigua Guatemala: CIRMA.
Maximiliano Poma S., Tabita J.T. de la Cruz, Manuel Caba Caba et al. 1996. Gramática del Idioma Ixil. La Antigua Guatemala: Proyecto Linguistico Francisco Marroquín.
England, Nora C. 1994. Ukuta'miil Ramaq'iil Utzijob'aal ri Maya' Amaaq': Autonomia de los Idiomas Mayas: Historia e identidad. (2nd ed.). Guatemala City: Cholsamaj.
Oxlajuuj Keej Maya' Ajtz'iib' (OKMA). 1993. Maya' chii'. Los idiomas Mayas de Guatemala. Guatemala City: Cholsamaj.

External links[edit]