MillerComm Lecture Series

Working on Mayan Languages: A Community-Based Research

Thursday, April 8th, 2021
Pedro Mateo Pedro
7:00pm CDT

Zoom presentation: registration required

Event Description

Mulnajil yib’an Mayab’ ti’ej yetoq Mayab’ konob’

Trabajando con las Lenguas Mayas: Una Investigación desde la comunidad



In this talk, Professor Mateo Pedro will discuss his work on Mayan languages in Guatemala highlighting language documentation, language maintenance, and research. He considers this type of work as Community-Based Research given the community involvement in projects of this kind. He will divide the talk in three parts. In part 1, he will discuss the social, linguistic, geographical situation and some grammatical features of Mayan languages. In part 2, he will present how children acquire numeral classifiers (-eb’, -k’on and -wan) in Q’anjob’al. Starting at two years of age, children gradually acquire the numeral classifiers, following the adult grammar of Q’anjob’al. However, these children show some errors of extension. These types of error show that these children lack a clear distinction between human and non-human beings, which may be due to the low frequency of -k’on and -wan in the input. Therefore, these children would assume -eb’ as a default form. The lack of distinction between human and non-human beings is evidenced in the use of the plural marker heb’ for animals and people in the child data, which in the adult grammar of Q’anjob’al this marker is used for people only. In part 3, he will discuss his work on language maintenance, as a collaborative effort with colleagues, institutions, and community members. These projects include teaching method of Mayan languages to L2 learners, creating materials online, e.g. Atlas Lingüístico Q’anjob’al, and workshops on the structure of Q’anjob’al. He will conclude the talk with the hope that it would motivate future work on the documentation and maintenance of Mayan languages in the Urbana Champaign area, e.g. Q’anjob’al.

Hosted by: Department of Linguistics

In conjunction with: Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Department of Anthropology, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Department of History, Department of Latina/Latino Studies, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Native American and Indigenous Languages (NAIL) Lab, Program in American Indian Studies, Program in Translation and Interpreting Studies, School of Social Work

Pedro Mateo Pedro

Assistant Professor of Linguistics, University of Toronto