Tojolab'al language

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Native to Mexico
Region Southeast Chiapas
Ethnicity Tojolabal
Native speakers
52,000 (2010 census)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 toj
Glottolog tojo1241[2]
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Tojolabal is a Mayan language spoken in Chiapas, Mexico. It is related to the Chuj language spoken in Guatemala. Tojolabal is spoken especially in the departments of the Chiapanecan Colonia of Las Margaritas by about 20,000 people.[when?]

The name Tojolabal derives from the phrase [tohol aˈbal], meaning "right language". Nineteenth century documents sometimes refer to the language and its speakers as "Chaneabal" (meaning "four languages", possibly a reference to the four Mayan languages -- Tzotzil, Tzeltal, Tojolabal, and Chuj -- spoken in the Chiapas highlands and nearby lowlands along the Guatemala border).

Anthropologist Carlos Lenkersdorf has claimed several linguistic and cultural features of the Tojolabal, primarily the language's ergativity, show that they do not give cognitive weight to the distinctions subject/object, active/passive. This he interprets as being evidence in favor of the controversial Sapir-Worf hypothesis.

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


  1. ^ INALI (2012) México: Lenguas indígenas nacionales
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Tojolabal". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  • Lenkersdorf, Carlos (1996). Los hombres verdaderos. Voces y testimonios tojolabales. Lengua y sociedad, naturaleza cite y cultura, artes y comunidad cósmica. Mexico City: Siglo XXI. ISBN 968-23-1998-6.