Qʼanjobʼal language

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Qʼanjobʼal
Kanjobal
Native toGuatemala
RegionHuehuetenango
Ethnicity208,000 Qʼanjobʼal in Guatemala (2019 census)
Native speakers
180,000: 170,000 in Guatemala (2015 – 2019 census)[1]
10,000 in Mexico (2020 census)[2]
Mayan
  • Western Mayan
Language codes
ISO 639-3kjb
Glottologqanj1241
ELPQ'anjob'al

Qʼanjobʼal (IPA: [ʛ̥anχoɓal]), (also Kanjobal)[3] is a Mayan language spoken primarily in Guatemala and part of Mexico. According to 1998 estimates compiled by SIL International in Ethnologue, there were approximately 77,700 native speakers, primarily in the Huehuetenango Department of Guatemala.[4] Municipalities where the Qʼanjobʼal language is spoken include San Juan Ixcoy (Yich Kʼox), San Pedro Soloma (Tzʼulumaʼ ), Santa Eulalia (Jolom Konobʼ ), Santa Cruz Barillas (Yalmotx), San Rafael La Independencia, and San Miguel Acatán (Pedro Mateo Pedro 2010). Qʼanjobʼal is taught in public schools through Guatemala's intercultural bilingual education programs.

Classification[edit]

Qʼanjobʼal is a member of the Qʼanjobʼalan branch of the Mayan language family. The Mayan language family includes 31 languages, two of which are now extinct. The Qʼanjobʼalan branch includes not only Qʼanjobʼal itself but also Chuj, Akatek, and Jakaltek, also spoken in Guatemala. The Qʼanjobʼalan languages are noted for being among the most conservative of the Mayan language family, although they do include some interesting innovations.[5]

Phonology[edit]

Qʼanjobʼal consists of 26 consonant sounds and 5 vowel sounds. The letters of the alphabet are as follows:

a, bʼ, ch, chʼ, e, h, i, j, k, kʼ, l, m, n, o, p, q, qʼ, r, s, t, tʼ, tx, txʼ, tz, tzʼ, u, w, x, xh, y, and ʼ (glottal stop).

The ʼ in chʼ, kʼ, qʼ, tʼ, txʼ, and tzʼ represents an ejective or glottalic egressive, i.e., the consonant is accompanied by a puff of air from the glottis. The letter r in Qʼanjobʼal has a limited distribution. It is used mostly in borrowings, primarily in words borrowed from Spanish, such as roxax, rose, from Spanish rosa. It is also used in affect and positional words like kʼarari 'noise of an old engine or the like', jeran 'to be in a broken position/form'. The letters tx and x represent retroflex consonants, pronounced with the tongue curled backward in the mouth. It is believed such retroflection in Qʼanjobʼal is an influence from the Mamean Mayan languages.[6]

Vowels
Front Back
Close i u
Mid e o
Open a
Consonants
Bilabial Alveolar Post-
alveolar
Retroflex Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal ⟨m⟩ m ⟨n⟩ n
Stop plain ⟨p⟩ ⟨t⟩ ⟨k⟩ ⟨q⟩ ⟨ʼ⟩ ʔ
ejective ⟨tʼ⟩ ⟨kʼ⟩
implosive ⟨bʼ⟩ ɓ ⟨qʼ⟩ ʛ̥
Affricate plain ⟨tz⟩ tsʰ ⟨ch⟩ tʃʰ ⟨tx⟩ ʈʂʰ
ejective ⟨tzʼ⟩ tsʼ ⟨chʼ⟩ tʃʼ ⟨txʼ⟩ ʈʂʼ
Fricative ⟨s⟩ s ⟨xh⟩ ʃ ⟨x⟩ ʂ ⟨j⟩ x~χ
Approximant ⟨w⟩ v ⟨l⟩ l ⟨y⟩ j ⟨w⟩ w
Flap ⟨r⟩ ɾ

Stress[edit]

Primary stress in Qʼanjobʼal is fairly simple. Words in isolation and in final phrase boundaries bear stress on the last syllable. However, words within a phrasal unit (not in final phrase boundary) bear stress on their first syllable.

Morphology and syntax[edit]

Verbs[edit]

As in all Mayan languages, Qʼanjobʼal classifies all verbs as either inherently intransitive (calling up only one argument) or as inherently transitive (calling up two arguments).[7] Qʼanjobʼal is an ergative–absolutive language, in which the subject of a transitive verb takes an ergative affix, while the subject of an intransitive verb, as well as the object of a transitive verb, takes an absolutive affix.

There are two sets of affixes for ergative: the first set is used for those verbal roots beginning with a consonant, and the second set is used for those beginning with a vowel.

Ergative prefixes
verbal roots beginning with a consonant verbal roots beginning with a vowel
Singular Plural Singular Plural
1st person hin- ko- w- j-
2nd person ha- he- h- hey-
3rd person s-/Ø- s-/Ø- y- y-
ex:

X-Ø-inmaqʼ

COMP-A3S-E1S-hit

naq

CL:masc

winaq.

man

X-Ø-inmaqʼ naq winaq.

COMP-A3S-E1S-hit CL:masc man

'I hit the man.' (Mateo 2008: p.c.)

Ergative affixes are also used for possession.

ex:

w-aqan

E1S-foot

w-aqan

E1S-foot

'my foot'

ex:

s-qʼab

E3S-hand

s-qʼab

E3S-hand

'his/her hand'

There is only one set of absolutive affixes with two variations: pronounced like free words or attached to something else. Note that the third person absolutive affix is Ø, i.e., unmarked or empty.

Absolutive affixes
when attached to preceding sounds not attached to a preceding sound
Singular Plural Singular Plural
1st person -in -on hin hon
2nd person -ach -ex hach hex
3rd person -Ø...(hebʼ) Ø Ø...(hebʼ)
ex:

X-in

COMP-A1S

way-i.

sleep-STAT

X-in way-i.

COMP-A1S sleep-STAT

'I slept.' (Mateo 2008: p.c.)

However, while verbs are classified as either ergative or absolutive and take their own respective sets of pronoun affixes, this rule is altered in certain cases, such as when a verb becomes progressive:

ex:

Ch-in

INC-A1S

kuy-w-i.

study-SFX-STAT

Ch-in kuy-w-i.

INC-A1S study-SFX-STAT

'I study'.[8]

but,

ex:

Ipan

PROG

hin-kuy-w-i.

E1S-study-SFX-STAT

Ipan hin-kuy-w-i.

PROG E1S-study-SFX-STAT

'I am studying'.[9]

Aspect[edit]

In Qʼanjobʼal, aspect (whether an action has been completed or not) is more important than tense. Thus, in most utterances, one will indicate whether the action is incompletive, or whether it is completed, or may happen in the future, in which case it is considered 'unreal', or of irrealis mood, the event still only in the realm of thought or imagination.

Incompletive[edit]

Ch(i) is used to indicate that an event is incomplete or ongoing at some time:

ex:

Chi

INC-A3S

toj

go

naq

CL:masc

unin

child

bʼay

to

y-atut-al

E3S-house-ABS

kuy-oj.

study-NZR

Chi-Ø toj naq unin bʼay y-atut-al kuy-oj.

INC-A3S go CL:masc child to E3S-house-ABS study-NZR

'The boy goes to school'.[10]

Completive[edit]

Max or x- (both forms are used in free variation) are used to indicate that an event is complete:

ex:

Max-ex

COM-A2P

mulnaj-i.

work-STAT

Max-ex mulnaj-i.

COM-A2P work-STAT

'You (pl.) worked.'[11]

ex:

X

COM-A3S

way-i.

sleep-STAT

X-Ø way-i.

COM-A3S sleep-STAT

'He/she slept.'[12]

Future/Irrealis[edit]

The prefix hoq- with the suffix -oq are used to indicate that the event spoken of has not yet happened, but remains only in the realm of the 'unreal' with only the potential for occurrence in the future:

ex:

Hoq

IRR-A3

saqch-oq

play-IRR

heb'.

A3P

Hoq-Ø saqch-oq heb'.

IRR-A3 play-IRR A3P

'They will play.'[13]

Negative[edit]

Negative particles include kʼam and manaq:

ex:

Kʼam

NEG

chi-Ø

INC-A3S

y-oche-j.

E3S-want-SFX

Kʼam chi-Ø y-oche-j.

NEG INC-A3S E3S-want-SFX

'He/she doesn't want it.'[14]

ex:

Manaq

NEG

ix

she

chi-Ø

INC-A3S

toj

go

kuy-oj.

study-NOM

Manaq ix chi-Ø toj kuy-oj.

NEG she INC-A3S go study-NOM

'It is not she who goes to study.'[15]

Interrogative[edit]

Questions can be formed simply by using rising intonation with declarative syntax:

ex:

Ch-Ø-oche-j

INC-A3S-E2S-SFX

cha-ch

INC-A2S

kanal-w-i

dance-SFX-STAT

w-etoq?

E1S-with

Ch-Ø-oche-j cha-ch kanal-w-i w-etoq?

INC-A3S-E2S-SFX INC-A2S dance-SFX-STAT E1S-with

'Do you want to dance with me?'[16]

There is also a question particle, mi:

ex:

Watxʼ

good

mi

INTER

ha-kul?

E2S-stomach

Watxʼ mi ha-kul?

good INTER E2S-stomach

'Is your stomach good?'

(Used as common form of greeting, like English 'How are you?')

Affixation[edit]

Many different affixes are used in Qʼanjobʼal, both prefixes and suffixes. Among these are aj-, used to denote the doer or leader of an action: ajtzʼibʼ, ʼwriterʼ (< tzʼibʼ 'write'), ajbʼe, 'spiritual guide' (< bʼe 'road'); -bʼal, used to indicate the location where something happens: tzombʼal 'market' (< tzon 'buy'); -al, -alil, -il, used to derive abstract nouns from adjectives, adverbs, numerals, transitive verb roots, and nouns: syalixhal 'his/her smallness' (< yalixh 'small'); swinaqil 'husband' (< winaq 'man'); -kʼulal, to derive nouns from intransitive verbs, adjectives, other nouns, etc.: watxkʼulal 'friendliness'; -oj, nominalizer, turning verbs into nouns: kuyoj 'studying' (< kuy 'study').

Word order[edit]

Qʼanjobʼal has a fixed word order. It follows a verb–subject–object (VSO) word order. All changes to this word order are driven by pragmatic or syntactic factors like focus, negation, interrogation, relativization, etc. These are subject to an ergative–absolutive pattern where arguments cross-referenced by ergative affixes must become absolutives prior to their fronting (focus, negation, etc.). This results in some possible subject–verb (SV), object–verb–subject (OVS) orders. However SVO, SOV and OSV are not possible (or, at least, not attested in any known corpus). The apparent exception is in reflexives and reflexive possessives, where the reflexive phrase ERG-bʼa (noun) or reflexive possessive ERG-noun appears directly following the verb.[17]

Classifiers[edit]

Some Qʼanjobʼal nouns require that certain classifiers be used with them. Among these are no' (animals), te (trees/wood), ix (female), naq (male), chʼen (stone/metal), xim (corn), and an (plants).

noʼ

CL:animal

jun

one

chej

horse

noʼ jun chej

CL:animal one horse

'the horse'

teʼ

CL:wood

na

house

teʼ na

CL:wood house

'the house'

ix

CL:fem

unin

child

ix unin

CL:fem child

'the girl'

naq

CL:masc

unin

child

naq unin

CL:masc child

'the boy'

chʼen

CL:metal

tumin

money

chʼen tumin

CL:metal money

'the money'

an

CL:plant

kaq

flower

an kaq

CL:plant flower

'the flower'

Reduplication[edit]

Reduplication, or duplication of a root word, is a minor process in the formation of Qʼanjobʼal vocabulary, as in the following:

txʼitam
'pig'
(onomatopoeic: based on the sound it makes)

pux-pux
'belly of animal'

txʼa-txʼa
'chewing gum'

Vocabulary[edit]

Qʼanjobʼal consists of groups of roots that can take affixes. Words are traditionally classified as nouns, adjectives, adverbs, intransitive and transitive verbs, particles, and positionals. Positionals are a group of roots which cannot function as words on their own; in combination with affixes they are used to describe relationships of position and location. Particles are words that do not take affixes; they mostly function in adverbial roles, and include such things as interrogative particles, affirmative/negative words, markers of time and location, conjunctions, prepositions and demonstratives.

Locatives are often formed by placing a noun after a possessed body-part term: s-ti bʼe, 'edge of the road' < 'its-mouth road' and s-jolom witz, 'mountaintop' or 'summit' < 'its-head mountain'. Similarly, compound nouns may be formed by placing a noun after another possessed noun: y-atutal kuyoj, 'school' < 'its-house studying'.

Numbers[edit]

Common words[edit]

anima person
chʼenej rock/stone
aʼ ej water/river
ix woman
chikay grandmother
mamin grandfather
ixim corn
kaq red
kʼu sun/day
mam father
mis cat
na house (also atut)
patej tortilla
sat kan sky (lit. snake's eye)
son marimba
te' tree
txʼi' dog
txʼotxʼej land
txʼutx' mother
unin child
waykan star
winaq man
witz mountain
xajaw moon/month
yibʼan qʼinal Earth/world
xumak flower

Abbreviations used[edit]

ABS abstractivizer
CL classifier
COM complete
INC incomplete
INT interrogative
IRR irrealis
NEG negative
NZR nominalizer
PL plural
PROG progressive
SFX suffix
STAT status

COMPL:completive COM:Completive A3S:Third-person singular absolutive E1S:First-person singular ergative A1S:First-person singular absolutive E3S:Third-person singular ergative SFX:Status suffix INC:Incompletive A2S: Second-person singular absolutive E2S: Second-person singular ergative A3: Third-person absolutive INTER:Interrogative A2P: Second-person plural absolutive A3P: Third-person plural absolutive NZR:Nominalizer

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Qʼanjobʼal at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  2. ^ Lenguas indígenas y hablantes de 3 años y más, 2020 INEGI. Censo de Población y Vivienda 2020.
  3. ^ Other variant names include Santa Eulalia Kanjobal, Kanhobal, Qanjobal, Conob, and Eastern Kanjobal.
  4. ^ Centered around the municipio of Santa Eulalia; owing to recent emigrations there are communities of Qʼanjobʼal speakers in the United States (see Gordon (2005).
  5. ^ Robertson (1992), p.154.
  6. ^ Robertson (1992), p.58.
  7. ^ Robertson (1992), p.50.
  8. ^ Comunidad Lingüística Qʼanjobʼal (2005), p.76.
  9. ^ Comunidad Lingüística Qʼanjobʼal (2005), p.76.
  10. ^ Comunidad Lingüística Qʼanjobʼal (2005), p.154.
  11. ^ Comunidad Lingüística Qʼanjobʼal (2005), p.78.
  12. ^ OKMA (2000), p.77.
  13. ^ Comunidad Lingüística Qʼanjobʼal (2005), p.76.
  14. ^ Comunidad Lingüística Qʼanjobʼal (2005), p.205.
  15. ^ Comunidad Lingüística Qʼanjobʼal (2005), p.203.
  16. ^ Comunidad Lingüística Qʼanjobʼal (2005), p.202.
  17. ^ Mateo Toledo, Eladio (2008). The Family of Complex Predicates in Qʼanjobʼal (Maya); Their Syntax and Meaning.

References[edit]

External links[edit]