The Organization of the Dictionary
by Peter Mathews
The first part of the Dictionary to go online is the alphabetical listing of syllables, words, and compounds, which comprises the main part John Montgomery’s Dictionary of Maya Hieroglyphs (2002).
The dictionary entries follow the usual order for dictionaries of the Mayan languages, proceeding letter by letter through the alphabet, and taking into account that Mayan languages have phonemes, or sounds, that are distinct from those in English or Spanish:
At the moment, there are no entries for p’, and John Montgomery’s Dictionary had no entry for t’–although I have added seven entries under t’. Both p’ and t’ are not common consonants in Mayan languages, and so our finding them only rarely in the inscriptions is not particularly surprising.
Easily the most important difference between this online Dictionary and John Montgomery’s Dictionary of Maya Hieroglyphs is that I have included entries under h and j whereas John only included j. This issue is still a matter of debate among Maya epigraphers. Most, however, currently accept that h and j were written differently during most of the Classic period, and it is only in inscriptions dating to after about A.D. 700 that the distinction becomes blurred in some cases.
Another Classic Mayan phoneme not represented in the Dictionary: the glottal stop, transcribed as ’. While there is no doubt whatsoever that this phoneme was represented in the phonemic inventory of Classic Mayan (and of all modern Mayan languages), there is not solid agreement among epigraphers as to whether the glottal stop was "spelled" in Maya hieroglyphic writing. I shall tackle this issue in a later phase of the Dictionary.
Finally, I should add that you can hear the sounds of the Maya syllables by placing your mouse/pointer over the image. **Please note: some sound files may require more time to load completely.
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