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Luisa Maffi

A Tzeltal Maya Dictionary
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Research Year:  1995
Culture:  Maya
Chronology:  Classic
Location:  Chiapas, México
Site:  Tzeltal Maya Dictionary

Table of Contents

About the Project
Tzeltal of Tenejapa: Dictionary Draft 11/97
Tzeltal of Tenejapa: Published Vocabulary Hunn (1977)
Sources Cited


The present report describes the activities carried out during the period January 1995-December 1996 under the project "A Tzeltal Maya Dictionary", funded by FAMSI.

As described in the grant application, the aim of this project was creating an extensive computerized lexical database on Tzeltal Maya. Tzeltal is the main Mayan language of Chiapas, México, closely related to the Cholan languages of the Classic Maya Lowlands, and quite possibly the language whose ancestor is recorded in the inscriptions of the Classic Maya site of Toniná, in Chiapas. Understanding the lexicon of this language, for which no full-scale description is so far available, is essential to the study of the Classic Maya script. The project was intended as the first stage of a longer-term research plan aimed at elaborating a comprehensive dictionary of Tzeltal. It consisted in assembling, systematically organizing, and computerizing the existing lexical materials on the Tenejapa dialect of Tzeltal Maya (the Tzeltal dialect with the most extensive documentation), as well as other linguistic and cultural information contained in ethnographies of Tenejapa Tzeltal communities, as the basis on which to build for the later extensive lexicographic research. Materials on other Tzeltal dialects were also to be entered for comparison and as aids to further research on Tenejapa Tzeltal.

The project was carried out by the PI (Maffi), then at University of California at Berkeley, in collaboration with Dr. Martha Macri of University of California at Davis. Dr. Macri freely contributed her Mayanist as well as computer database expertise in support of the project. She also provided some of the computer equipment used for the project, in particular a scanner. The project also employed two research assistants, Ms. Heidi Altman and Mr. John Whitmer, both Anthropology graduate students at UC Davis. Altman and Whitmer were involved in scanning part of the materials (see below), cleaning up the scanned files, and performing the conversion of these files to a computer database in the Panorama application for Macintosh. Additional tasks consisted in entering ethnographic information contained in the body of some of the texts listed below. The PI worked at 25% time over the 24 months of the project. She was based in Berkeley and paid monthly visits to Davis to work with the other collaborators.

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Submitted 10/01/1997 by:

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