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A Grammar of the Yucatecan Mayan Language
by David & Alejandra Bolles


70.  In the Mayan language the conjunctions generally function like their English counterparts as far as their use and position is concerned.

Yetel (and / with): yetel is the major conjunction and doubles both as "and" and "with".

X-Nico yetel X-Tina cu binoob yetel le hucħo.   "Nicolasa and Tina are going with the ground corn meal."

As already noted in Section 14, note 7E, the base word is actually etel, but the consonants y or u are almost always prefixed onto the word.

Cux? (And?): Cux? is an interrogative conjunctive which leads off a rejoining question.

Cux tun X-Ana, ma tu bin?   "And therefore Ana, isn't she going?"

Cux tech?   "And you?"

Cux is frequently accompanied by tun. The word Cux or the clause Cux tun begins the interrogative sentence.

Xan (also, too)

Mi yan u bin xan.   "I think she has to go too."

The word xan is used, especially in modern H-Men rituals, as a cadence filler or perhaps as a rhythm maker. Another word which shares a similar function is bacan (certainly).

bin u caah xan ci katabi xan tu chi bacan tu santo noh kaknab   "it wants to go also to graciously be asked also certainly at the holy great sea"

yetel in kubentic xan in zuhuy santo meyah xan   "and I dedicate also my virgin holy work also"

bey xan bacan xan cin kubentic xan in cuenta xan   "thus also certainly also I dedicate also my account also"

Ix (and, thus): The word ix as a conjunctive is used rarely today but is quite common in the colonial literature. When ix is a conjunctive it generally follows the words which it is acting upon.

Tancoch katun utzi, tancoch ix ma utzi xani.   "Half of the katun is good, and half is not good also."

He ix u kaba yah kinobe;   "Here thus are the names of the priests;"

Ulom ix uezil ti balcahi.   "Thus shall return leprosy to the world."

Ix was frequently paired with another word in the colonial texts:

bacac ix even though
bal ix what
bay ix thus
ca ix then
he ix here
hi ix maybe
lay ix thus
ma ix not
mac ix who
tab ix where
ti ix then
ua ix if, or

Ua (if, or, or an interrogative particle): Aside from the meanings "if" and "or", ua performs the function of indicating that a question is being asked. It is necessary to use this particle because sometimes inflection and/or word order will not be enough to indicate that a question is being asked.

Yan ua bin?    "Do you have to go?" The pronoun a (you) has been contracted into the interrogative particle ua.

Ua ma ta bin behlae, yan ua bin zamal?   "If you don't go today, are you going tomorrow?"

bay nohoch uinic ua ix palaloob xan   "whether big people or children also"

The word ua is often used in pairs resulting in "either --- or".

ua ten ua tech   "either I or you"

Mix --- mix (neither --- nor): the use of mix has been noted in Section 59.

mix ten mix tech    "neither I nor you"

Notice that for both ua --- ua and mix --- mix that the first person pronoun ten comes first. The idea that it is impolite to put one's own self first and thus grammatically an incorrect thing to do as is the case with English does not hold in the Mayan language.

Cex (even if)

Cex ma ta bin tene yan in bin.   "Even if you don't go I have to go."

Tun (therefore): tun is used much more than its English counterpart.

Bix tun can a bete?   "How therefore are you going to do it?"

Tun is frequently used as the second word in introductory clauses. Some of the more common clauses are:

bay tun thus therefore (colonial usage)
bey tun thus therefore
ca tun then therefore
he tun here therefore
lay tun thus therefore (colonial usage)
ley tun thus therefore
le tun when therefore (modern spelling)
lic tun then therefore (colonial usage)
ti tun then therefore


ca tun kuchoob ti Nun   "then therefore they arrived at Tinun"

bay tun u kaba   "thus therefore is his/her name"

le tun tech x-cichpam x-cħup,   "When therefore you beautiful woman,"

Bey (thus, so), Bay (thus, so; colonial usage): There is a shift from -ay to -ey both in this word and in the companion word lay / ley. This shift appears to have taken place slowly during the colonial period, but is as of yet not complete, there being some examples of -ay still used as will be noted in a moment. Also, in the area around Zac Ii (Valladolid) and Tzimin (Tizimin) the use of bay and lay still predominates.

Bey cu thanoob, bey cu yalcoob.   "Thus they say, thus they speak."

From bey / bay comes the words beyli / bayli, both of which are found in colonial usage and modern usage. The words mean "always".

Bayli bey cin beitc.    "I always do it like this."

Ley / lay (thus)

Ley cin ualic tech.    "That's what I am telling you."

From ley / lay comes the words leyli / layli, both of which are found in colonial usage and modern usage. The words also mean "always". Sometimes these words are pronounced leyili / layili.

The demonstrative particle le (Sections 10 and 40) seems to be derived from ley.

It should be noted that in colonial usage phases or sentences beginning with the words lay, bay, he, heklay, etc, are often bracketed with the words lae or loe.


Bay dzibanil ichil kulem dzib lae.    "Thus it is written in the holy scripture."

heix tancah parayso lae    "here in the middle of paradise"

Ca (then)

Ca tu yalah beya,    "Then he said like this,"

In colonial times, as noted above, ca was frequently paired with ix giving ca ix or caix (then) and with tun giving ca tun (then therefore).

Pero (but; borrowed from Spanish), hetun, heua, heuac (but; colonial usage): The Mayan words for "but" are very rarely used today.


Pero bix tun a uohel, xibpal?   "But how do you know, boy?" (xibpal is used among peers much like "man" is in English.)

hetun tu uacppel kinile lay tun u yax chun u kinil ah cuch haab   "but on the sixth day then (this is) therefore the first day of the year bearer."

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