Itza’ language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Itza' language)
Jump to: navigation, search
Native to Guatemala
Region Petén
Ethnicity Itza people
Native speakers
(12 cited 1986)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 itz
Glottolog itza1241[2]

Itza' (also Itza or Itzaj) is a language in the Yucatecan branch of the Mayan language family.

History of Itza'[edit]

The government banned the speaking of Itzá in the 1930s and two generations of Itzá Maya have grown up learning only Spanish. The late 1980s brought an increase in interest among Maya people, including the Itzá, in preserving their cultural heritage. There have been academies set up to help teach the Mayan language[3]



The following chart shows the consonant phonemes of Itza:[4]

Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Voiceless Implosive Voiceless Ejective Voiceless Ejective Voiceless Ejective Voiceless
Stops p ɓ t k ʔ
Affricates t͡s t͡sʼ t͡ʃ t͡ʃʼ
Fricatives s ʃ h
Nasals m n
Liquids l
Glides j w

Additionally, the phonemes /d, g, f, v, r, ɲ/ have been adopted from Spanish, and are present only in loanwords in modern Itza.[4]


The following chart shows the vowel phonemes of Itza:[5]

Front Central Back
Short Long Short Long Short Long
High i ɨ u
Mid e o
Low a

Related languages[edit]

The other languages in the Yucatecan branch are Yucatec, Lakantun, and Mopan. All Yucatecan languages are closely linked with each other. However, people speaking Itza' and those speaking Yucatec have difficulties understanding each other. There are 12 different branches of Mayan language, all with sub families like Itza'.


Today, it is spoken only by a few elderly adults in communities to the north of Lake Petén Itzá in northern Guatemala, such as San José. It is nearly extinct. The Itza ethnic group now almost all speak Spanish, and are not fluent in Itza'.

Geographic Distribution[edit]

Map of Maya Languages in Guatemala


The categories tense, aspect, and mood are interwoven in Itzaj Maya verbal and adverbial morphosyntax. Itzaj narrative discourse suggests a division between what a person knows from personal experience centered in one's home and town (the actual), and what is less known, but imaginable, further away in space-time. [6]

See also[edit]


  • Charles Andrew Hofling: Itzá Maya texts with a grammatical overview. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City 1991. 321 pp. ISBN 0-87480-359-4
  • Charles Andrew Hofling, Félix Fernando Tesucún: Tojt'an: diccionario maya itzaj - castellano. Guatemala, Cholsamaj, 2000.
  • Charles Andrew Hofling: Itzaj Maya Grammar. The University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City 2000. ISBN 0-87480-666-6
  • Charles Andrew Hofling, Félix Fernando Tesucún: Itzaj Maya-Spanish-English Dictionary. The University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City 1997. ISBN 0-87480-550-3


  1. ^ Itza' at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Itza". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ "Language: Itza, Guatemala." Discovery Channel, 2004. Web. 02 May 2016.
  4. ^ a b Hofling, Charles Andrew (1991). "Itzá Maya Texts, with a Grammatical Overview" (PDF). Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc. 
  5. ^ "Itza Talking Dictionary - Talking Dictionaries - Swarthmore College". Talking Dictionaries - Swarthmore College. Retrieved 2017-03-04. 
  6. ^ Hofling, Charles Andrew. “Irrealis and Perfect in Itzaj Maya”. Anthropological Linguistics 40.2 (1998): 214–227. Web...

External links[edit]