Cauque Mayan language

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Cauque Mayan
Cakchiquel–Quiché Mixed Language
Kaqchikel–K’iche’ Mixed Language
Native toGuatemala
Native speakers
2,000 (1998)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3ckz

Cauque Mayan is a mixed language, a K’iche’ (Quiché) base relexified by Kaqchikel (Cakchiquel). During the colonial era, K’iche’ migrated to Sacatepéquez, in the heart of Kaqchikel territory, where they founded the village of Santa María Cauque. Today only older adults retain the K’iche’ base to their speech: for younger speakers, the language has merged into Kaqchikel.

(to merge)[edit]

The Kaqchikel-K'iche' Mixed Language is also known as the Cauqué Mixed Language, or Cauqué Mayan, spoken in the aldea of Santa María Cauqué, Santiago Sacatepéquez, Department of Sacatepéquez in Guatemala. A 1998 study by the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) estimated speaker population at 2,000.[3] While the language's grammatical base is from K’iche’, its lexicon is supplied by Kaqchikel. It is generally thought that in the 15th century during the colonial period, its original K’iche’ speakers came from the area of what is now the Department of Quiché and founded Santa María Cauqué. Currently, the aldea is west of Guatemala City and at least 100 miles from the nearest K’iche’-speaking region.[4] The exact origin of this mixed language's K’iche’an grammatical base is not agreed upon, with some sources listing the K'iche' dialect of Joyabaj as having been the contributing grammar,[4][5] while others state that the area of current-day city of Quetzaltenango is from where the original Santa María Cauqué founders and their respective K'iche' dialect came.[6] In any case, it is clear that a variety of the original K’iche’ language was brought into and has continued to manifest in the grammar of this Kaqchikel-K'iche' Mixed Language, while it demonstrates the result of relexification over time from the surrounding Kaqchikel language. This particular process of relexification of the original K'iche' that had emigrated to a predominantly Kaqchikel-speaking region probably began with borrowing from the contact language (Kaqchikel) of roots and content morphemes, such as nouns and verbs.[7] This heavy lexical influence is understood to have been a significant deviation in "content" words from those that were part of the original Joyabaj dialect of K'iche' to their current Kaqchikel counterparts in the Kaqchikel-K'iche' Mixed Language, while at the same time there has been no structural borrowing from the surrounding Kaqchikel to replace the grammar that appears to have originated from K'iche'.[4]

According to a preliminary phonological analysis by Paul S. Stevenson,[6] the speech of those from Santa María Cauqué came from an original variety of K'iche', which now acts as the mixed language’s grammatical base. This evidence is realized in K’iche’ morphological-syntactic elements surrounding Kaqchikel vocabulary. This includes verb inflection for present tense-aspect marker, from which the K’iche’ prefix //k-// is implemented, contrasted with the more typical Kaqchikel prefixes of //y-// and //n-//. Furthermore, Santa María Cauqué utilizes K’iche’ suffixes at the end of a phrase that indicate whether the verb was transitive or intransitive, //-o//~//-u// or //-ik// respectively, those which Kaqchikel does not.[6] In fact, the //-ik// suffix can also be found with positionals in Santa María Cauqué.[8] Possession by a third person singular, preconsonantal, displays K’iche’ //u-// and not Kaqchikel //ru-//. The third person pronoun is also affected, in that the mixed language shows a higher number of speakers displaying K’iche’ rare’ ‘him/her/it’, instead of Kaqchikel rija’ ‘him/her/it’. Function words are still marked by K’iche’ as well, with //-uk’// ‘with’ and not Kaqchikel //-ik’in//. While the majority of grammatical elements in Santa María Cauqué are presented in K’iche’, the majority of lexical elements are realized in Kaqchikel.[6]

Following Bakker and Muysken’s[7] criteria of mixed languages, the Cauqué Mixed Language, with its convergence of K’iche’ grammar and Kaqchikel lexicon, is a result of geographical and historical social influence of identity (López 1999[5]). As documented in 1998[3] and 2003,[9] there are about 2,000 speakers of the Kaqchikel-K’iche’ Mixed Language in the Santa María Cauqué aldea. They are mainly adults older than 30 years of age, while there does not seem to be as much language transmission to the younger generations. These speakers also display bilingualism in the surrounding South Central Kaqchikel dialect, while the numbers of those also bilingual in Spanish continues to grow.[9] While there are previous assertions that the mixed language has not undergone structural borrowing,[4] there still appears to be a shift within the language to become more like Kaqchikel,[3] since older speakers show more of a K’iche’ morphological-syntactic base.[9]


  • Paul Stevenson, 1990. Santa Maria Cauque: a case of Cakchiquel–Quiche language mixing.
  1. ^ Cauque Mayan at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Cakchiquel-Quiche Mixed Language". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ a b c "Kaqchikel-K'iche' Mixed Language." Lewis, M. Paul, Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fennig (eds.). 2016. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Nineteenth edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Web.
  4. ^ a b c d Romero, Sergio Francisco. 2006. Sociolinguistic Variation and Linguistic History in Mayan: The Case of K’ichee’ (Doctoral dissertation). University of Pennsylvania.
  5. ^ a b Velásco, Miguel Pérez. 2014. Metodología para el Aprendizaje de la Lectura y Escritura del idioma Ixil con estudiantes de Quinto Magisterio Bilingüe Intercultural de la ENBI del municipio de Nebaj (Tesis de Grado). Universidad Rafael Landívar.
  6. ^ a b c d Stevenson, Paul S. 1990. Santa María Cauqué: Un caso de mezcla de los idiomas Cakchiquel y Quiche. Serie gramatical, 5a. Guatemala: Instituto Lingüístico de Verano de Centroamérica.
  7. ^ a b Bakker, Peter & Pieter Muysken. 1994. “Mixed languages and language intertwining.” Pidgins and Creoles: An introduction. Jacques Arends, Pieter Muysken, & Norval Smith (eds.). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: John Benjamins Publishing Company, pp. 41-52.
  8. ^ Majzul, Filiberto Patal, Lolmay Pedro Oscar García Matzar, & Ixchel Carmelina Espantzay Serech. 2000. Rujunamaxik ri Kaqchikel Chi’: Variación Dialectal en Kaqchikel. Guatemala City: Cholsamaj.
  9. ^ a b c Grimes, B. 2003. “Mixed Languages.” International Encyclopedia of Linguistics, Volume 4 (second ed.). William J. Frawley (ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.