Basic K'ichee' Grammar: 38 Lessons, Revised Edition

Basic K'ichee' Grammar: 38 Lessons, Revised Edition

by James L. Mondloch


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The K’ichee’an languages—K’ichee’, Kaqchikel, Tz¢utujil, Sakapulteko, Achi, and Sipakapense—occupy a prominent place among the indigenous languages of the Americas because of both their historical significance and the number of speakers (more than one million total). Basic K'ichee' Grammar is an extensive and accurate survey of the principal grammatical structures of K’ichee’. Written in a clear, nontechnical style to facilitate the learning of the language, it is the only K’ichee’ grammar available in English.
A pedagogical rather than a reference grammar, the book is a thorough presentation of the basics of the K’ichee’ Maya language organized around graded grammatical lessons accompanied by drills and exercises. Author James L. Mondloch spent ten years in K’ichee’-speaking communities and provides a complete analysis of the K’ichee’ verb system based on the everyday speech of the people and using a wealth of examples and detailed commentaries on actual usage.
A guide for learning the K’ichee’ language, Basic K'ichee' Grammar is a valuable resource for anyone seeking a speaking and reading knowledge of modern K’ichee’, including linguists, anthropologists, and art historians, as well as nonacademics working in K’ichee’ communities, such as physicians, dentists, community development workers, and educators.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781607325307
Publisher: University Press of Colorado
Publication date: 08/07/2017
Series: IMS Monograph Series
Edition description: Revised
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

James L. Mondloch is adjunct professor at the Latin American and Iberian Institute at the University of New Mexico, where he founded the K'iche' Maya Oral History Project, a digitized collection of more than one hundred oral histories gathered in the municipios of Nahualá and Santa Catarina Ixtahuacán in Sololá, Guatemala, during the 1960s and 1970s. He has co-translated and annotated several sixteenth-century K'ichee' documents, including El Título de Totonicapán, El Título Yax, and El Título K'oyoy, in collaboration with Robert Carmack.

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This grammar is presented with the goal of making available a much more complete and useable presentation of the K'ichee' language than has yet been published. It is my hope that this work will be of value to its readers in their study of K'ichee'.

After studying and speaking the K'ichee' language for some eight years, in 1973 I decided it was time to write down in an orderly fashion some of my ideas about the structure of the language. Much of the analysis found in this grammar is not mine, but rather is the work of other dedicated students of K'ichee'. Some few of the ideas are my own.

When I began my study of K'ichee', I used the available works written on the language, especially the grammars of David Fox, Stanley Wick, Adrian Chávez, and Charles Étienne Brasseur de Bourbourg. As I progressed in my knowledge of the language I came upon many points of grammar, especially in the verb structure, that were not touched upon in these works. For this reason I began constructing my own grammatical analysis of the language. In this study I have attempted to make a rather complete analysis of the K'ichee' verb system based on the everyday speech of the people. Many of the unresolved grammatical problems that I encountered while studying the language have been resolved, at least to my satisfaction, in this present analysis. Another problem I had to face in attempting to describe theNahualá-Ixtahuacán dialect of K'ichee' was that of vowel length. The modern grammars of the language (Fox, Wick) are of dialects with a six-vowel system. However, the Nahualá-Ixtahuacán dialect has a ten-vowel system. With the help of Dr. William Norman I have attempted to accurately record vowel length in this present work.

Needless to say, no grammatical analysis of any language is ever complete. This grammar is intended to be a pedagogical rather than a reference work. A more thorough treatment of the phonology of the language is necessary (e.g., vowel shortening, contractions, the phonological properties of the phoneme /h/, etc.). Yet this grammar should serve as a useful complement to the already existing works.

I wish to express my gratitude to all who have helped me in the preparation of this work. Above all, I thank the K'ichee' speakers, especially those from Nahualá, Santa Catarina Ixtahuacán, and Santo Tomás la Unión, Suchitepéquez, who have so patiently mentored me in their language. A greater gift they could not have given me. For in sharing with me their language they opened their hearts in friendship.

My thanks to Father Eugene Hruska, who so patiently and with much effort helped me to formulate my ideas in the clearest possible fashion. It was his prodding that made me begin constructing this grammar, and it was his continual help and encouragement that enabled me to finally finish it. These lessons bear the mark of his careful revision and constructive criticism.

I also owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. William Norman for the long hours he invested in the correction and revision of this grammar. And finally, I especially thank my wife, Maria Tahay Carrillo, herself a native K'ichee' speaker, who so patiently helped me in formulating this work.

In 1998 Mark Potter and his wife, Hilaria Xu'm, a native of Santa Catarina Ixtashucan, on their own initiative, transcribed the entire grammar into a Word document and rewrote all of the K'ichee' entries into the now commonly used alphabet of the Academia de Lenguas Mayas de Guatemala (ALMG). I am deeply indebted to them for undertaking that laborious task.


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Table of Contents

Foreword William Norman Lyle Campbell ix

Introduction xi

List of Abbreviations and Symbols xiii

Lesson 1 The K'ichee' Alphabet 3

Lesson 2 The Nonverbal Sentence 12

Lesson 3 Pluralization of Nonverbal Sentences 15

Lesson 4 Personal Pronouns and the Nonverbal Sentence 19

Lesson 5 Adjectives Modifying Nouns 22

Lesson 6 Converting Affirmative Sentences into Questions 26

Lesson 7 Possessive Pronouns 30

Lesson 8 Possessive Pronouns (Continued) 33

Lesson 9 Simple Intransitive Verbs in Incomplete Aspect 36

Lesson 10 Simple Intransitive Verbs in Completed Aspect; Declension of the Prepositions -umaal and -uuk' 42

Lesson 11 Simple Intransitive Verbs Whose Roots Begin with Vowels 46

Lesson 12 Imperative Mood for Simple Intransitive Verbs 49

Lesson 13 Negatives 53

Lesson 14 The Particle wi (u, wu) with Direction and Location Words 57

Lesson 15 Derived Transitive Verbs in Incomplete Aspect and Active Voice with Roots Beginning with Consonants 60

Lesson 16 Derived Transitive Verbs in Completed Aspect and Active Voice with Roots Beginning with Consonants 68

Lesson 17 Derived Transitive Verbs in Active Voice Whose Roots Begin with a Vowel 71

Lesson 18 Imperatives of Derived Transitive Verbs in Active Voice and the Reflexives 75

Lesson 19 Derived Transitive Verbs in the Simple Passive Voice 80

Lesson 20 Derived Transitive Verbs in Completed Passive Voice 86

Lesson 21 Derived Transitive Verbs in the Absolutive Antipassive Voice 91

Lesson 22 Derived Transitive Verbs in the Agent-Focus Antipassive Voice 98

Lesson 23 Special Subclasses of Derived Transitive Verbs and the Use of Independent Personal Pronouns for Emphasis 107

Lesson 24 The Demonstrative Articles and Relative Pronouns: we, le, ri 113

Lesson 25 The Demonstrative Pronouns: wa', la', ri' 118

Lesson 26 Radical Transitive Verbs in the Active Voice in Incomplete and Completed Aspects and Intensification of Adjectives with -alaj 123

Lesson 27 The Imperatives of Radical Transitive Verbs in Active Voice and Use of the Progressive Aspect Marker katajinik 130

Lesson 28 Radical Transitive Verbs in Simple Passive Voice 137

Lesson 29 Radical Transitive Verbs in the Completed Passive and Absolutive Antipassive Voices 143

Lesson 30 Radical Transitive Verbs in Agent-Focus Antipassive Voice and Use of b'anik with Spanish Verbs 150

Lesson 31 The Negative Imperative and Other Negative Forms 156

Lesson 32 Perfect Aspect of Radical and Derived Transitive Verbs in Active and Simple Passive Voices and the Special Case of eta'maxik 162

Lesson 33 Perfect Aspect of Simple Intransitive Verbs and Radical and Derived Transitive Verbs in Completed Passive, Absolutive Antipassive, and Agent-Focus Antipassive Voices 170

Lesson 34 Positional Intransitive Verbs in Incomplete, Completed, Perfect, and Positional Aspects and in the Imperative Mood 179

Lesson 35 Nominalized Forms of Simple and Positional Intransitive Verbs and of Radical and Derived Transitive Verbs in Simple Passive and Absolute Antipassive Voices 188

Lesson 36 Formation of Person Agents with Simple Intransitive Verbs and with Radical and Derived Transitive Verbs in the Absolutive Antipassive Voices and the Use of Familiar Prefixes a- and al- with Proper Names 197

Lesson 37 Formation of Nouns from Adjectives and Unpossessed Forms of Obligatorily Possessed Nouns 204

Lesson 38 Directional and Locational Adverbs loq, b'iik, and kanoq and Conjugation of Irregular Derived Transitive Verb ajawaxik and Use of Auxiliary Verbs kowinem and ajawaxik 210

K'ichee' to English Vocabulary 221

Story: The Creation of the Animals a long Time Ago 250

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