Jakaltek language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Jacaltec)
Jump to: navigation, search
jab' xub'al
Native to Guatemala, Mexico
Region Huehuetenango, Chiapas
Ethnicity Jakaltek
Native speakers
unknown (9,500 cited 1990)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 jac
Glottolog popt1235[2]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.

The Jakaltek /hɑːkəlˈtɛk/[3] language (Jacalteco), also called Popti’, is a Mayan language of Guatemala spoken by 9,000 Jakaltek people in the department of Huehuetenango, and some 500 the adjoining part of Chiapas in southern Mexico. The name Poptí for the language is used by the Academia de Lenguas Mayas de Guatemala and the Guatemalan Congress.


Municipalities where Jakaltek is spoken include the following (Variación Dialectal en Popti', 2000).


The Eastern Jacaltec language includes the following phonemes:

Bilabial Alveolar Post-
Retroflex Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Stop p /p/ t /t/ c/qu /k/ k /q/ ' /ʔ/
Implosive b /ɓ/
Ejective stop t' // c'/q'u // k' //
Affricate tz /ts/ ch // tx //
Ejective affricate tz' /tsʼ/ ch' /tʃʼ/ tx' /tʂʼ/
Fricative s /s/ x /ʃ/ /ʂ/ j /h/
Nasal m /m/ n /n/ n̈/ŋ /ŋ/
Approximant w /w/ l /l/ y /j/
Trill r /r/

It also has the vowels a /a/, e /e/, i /i/, o /o/, u /u/


Eastern Jacaltec is one of the few languages besides the Malagasy language of Madagascar to make use of an n-trema character in its alphabet. In both languages, the n-trema represents a velar nasal consonant [ŋ] (like "ng" in "bang").

Jakaltek-language programming is carried by the CDI's radio station XEVFS, broadcasting from Las Margaritas, Chiapas.


The Jacaltec language has a verb–subject–object syntax. Like many Native American languages, Jacaltec has complex agglutinative morphology and uses ergative–absolutive case alignment. It is divided in two dialects, Eastern and Western Jakalteko. "Eastern and Western Jakalteko understand each other's spoken languages, but not written text."[4]

Owing to Jacaltec's dissimilarity with Indo-European languages, the reasonably healthy linguistic population and the relative ease of access to Guatemala, Jacaltec has become a favorite of students of linguistic typology.


  1. ^ Jakaltek at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Popti'". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student’s Handbook, Edinburgh
  4. ^ Gordon, Raymond G, ed. "Jakalteko, Western." Ethnologue: Languages of the World. 15th ed. Dallas, TX: SIL International, 2005. 254. Print.