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.
About the Author
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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.
Excerpted from "Basic K'ichee' Grammar"
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