|Native speakers||370,000 (2000)|
Tzeltal // (or Ts'eltal) is a Mayan language spoken in the Mexican state of Chiapas, mostly in the municipalities of Ocosingo, Altamirano, Huixtán, Tenejapa, Yajalón, Chanal, Sitalá, Amatenango del Valle, Socoltenango, Villa las Rosas, Chilón, San Juan Cancun, San Cristóbal de las Casas and Oxchuc. It is a living language with some 371,730 speakers as of 2005, including a number of monolinguals.
Tzeltal forms, together with the Tzotzil language, a branch of the Mayan languages, called Tzeltalan, which in turn forms a branch with the Ch'olan languages called Cholan–Tzeltalan. All these languages are the most spoken Mayan languages in Chiapas today. Historically, the branches are believed to have split about 1,400 years ago. Also, some researchers believe that the Tzeltal language has been spoken as far away as in Guatemala.
One of the primary differences between the Tzeltalan and the Ch'ol languages today is that while the Ch'ol languages feature split ergativity, the Tzeltalan languages are fully morphologically ergative.
In 2013, Pope Francis approved translations of the prayers for Mass and the celebration of sacraments into Tzotzil and Tzeltal. The translations include "the prayers used for Mass, marriage, baptisms, confirmations, confessions, ordinations and the anointing of the sick ... Bishop Arizmendi said Oct. 6 that the texts, which took approximately eight years to translate, would be used in his diocese and the neighboring Archdiocese of Tuxtla Gutierrez. Mass has been celebrated in the diocese in recent years with the assistance of translators -- except during homilies -- Bishop Arizmendi said in an article in the newspaper La Jornada.
The phonology of Tzeltal is quite straightforward with a common vowel inventory and a typical consonant inventory for Mayan languages. Some phonological processes do occur, however, including assimilation, epenthesis, lenition and reduplication.
Tzeltal has 5 vowels:
|Plosive||Aspirated||p [pʰ]||t [tʰ]||k [kʰ]||' [ʔ]|
|Ejective||p' [pʼ]||t' [tʼ]||k' [kʼ]|
|Nasal||m [m]||n [n]|
|Fricative||z [s]||x [ʃ]||j [x]||h [h]|
|Affricate||Aspirated||w [β]||tz [t͡sʰ]||ch [t͡ʃʰ]|
|Ejective||tz' [t͡sʼ]||ch' [t͡ʃʼ]|
|Approximant||l [l]||y [j]||w [w]|
- [pʼ] at the end of a word: early, sap' [sapʼ]
- [ʔb] between vowels: many, tzop'ol [t͡sʰoʔbol]
- [b] everywhere else: road, p'e [be]
[w] has two allophones:
- [β] when it is the first member of a CC-consonant cluster,
- or if it is at the end of a word: seed, awlil [ʔaβlil]
- [w] everywhere else: I feared, ziwon [siwon]
Note, however, that it can be interchangeably [w] or [β] in the beginning of a word, as in older sister, wix [wiʃ] ~ [βiʃ].
- Tzeltal reference at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
- Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student’s Handbook, Edinburgh
- Ethnologue: tzh
- Catholic News Service. "In Chiapas, Mayans get Mass, sacraments in two of their languages". Catholic Sentinel (Portland, OR). Retrieved 2013-10-24.
- Shklovsky, Kirill (2005). Person Marking in Petalcingo Tzeltal.
- Gerdel, Florence (1955). Tzeltal (Maya) Phonemes.
- Robinson, Stuart P. (2009). Manual of Spoken Tzeltal.
|Tzeltal language test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator|