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Hmmm. I had thought that in the modern orthog. for Classical Mayan/Classical Ch'olti' transcriptions, <j> was pretty much used to stand for the voiceless velar fricative phoneme, so would it not be something like IPA: [ʔa'xaw] ...? Or, Maunus, are you indicating you think in this sequence its articulation would shift to something akin to h ? I've read that in Classical times there was definite phonemic contrast btw x and h, a distinction now lost in many if not most modern Mayan langs; so maybe a 'modern' pronunciation would be different. IANAL(inguist), tho'.
Over at FAMSI they've recently begun adding sound files to Montgomery's dictionary of Maya hieroglyphs; the entry and sound file for AJAW is here. Dunno whether the pronunciation is 'modern' or supposed to recreate a Classic-era one. It does sound more like h to my decidedly untrained ear. --cjllwʘTALK 05:57, 8 May 2007 (UTC)
I am not sure, but I think I can find out. I just don't know what the letter j is supposed to represent in this kind of transcription - normally it represents h in spanish influenced orthograhpies of mexican languages, but since classical maya had both [h] and [x] it could be used for the latter here. I'll check.·Maunus··ƛ· 06:45, 8 May 2007 (UTC)
It seems there's no cut-and-dried transcription, and that when the "ajaw" title is spelled out syllabically in the inscriptions, a glyph with the sound-value ja is typical of Early Classic texts, while Late Classic texts can use a different glyph, soundvalue ha. At least, according to Boot 2002, p.5:
In this vocabulary I make no distinction between a glottal aspirate or glottal voiced fricative (/h/ as in English "house") and a velar aspirate or velar voiced fricative (/j/ as in Spanish "joya"), as some epigraphers do in recent epigraphic studies (including myself, cf. Boot 2000). In this particular case the question is not if this distinction was made in the Classic period, but which signs contain either /h/ or /j/ (see Grube 2002 for an excellent exposition on this subject). Notable different Classic spellings would be 'a-T1042-wa and 'a-T683-wa that would transliterate ahaw (T1042 ha) (Late Classic) and ajaw (T683 ja) (Early Classic); or na-T1042-la (Late Classic) and na-T181/683-la T181 ja) (Early Classic) leading to nah-al and naj-al. As such, aspiration in this vocabulary, either glottal or velar, is represented through -h-.