Link to enlarge K6042 (Las Bocas - Ceramic Vessel) THE FOUNDATION RESEARCH DEPARTMENT

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


The following reading material is a survey of Mayan literature. The survey starts with a hieroglyphic text which is included to show the reader the type literature common amongst the educated Maya before the coming of the Spaniards. Next the survey looks at the earliest known piece of Mayan literature in Latin script (the 1557 Mani land treaty) and from there continues with various types of literature through the centuries to the present. The pieces in this anthology are as follows:

Date Selection
1400's Dresden Codex, Pages 29c - 31c
1557 Introductory Remarks to the "Mani Land Treaty of 1557"
1593 Prophecy for the year 13 Kan from the "Cuceb"
1590's Prophecy by Chilam Balam
1623 Introduction and a Selection of Riddles from "Zuyua Than yetel Naat"
1600's Two pieces from "Los Cantares de Dzitbalche"
1700's A Chant from "Ritual of the Bacabs"
1700's Cures for snake bites from medical recipes
1700's Blood letting sites on the human body
1850 Introductory Remarks from the "Proclamation of Juan de la Cruz"
1871 An Autobiographical Note by Jose Sabino Uc
1920's A Garden Ceremony from the town of Chan Kom
1964/75 Two "Santiguars" (Curing Ceremonies)
1964/74 Two Bee Ceremonies by Don Felipe Paz
1930's through the Present
  Modern Stories recorded by Manuel J. Andrade
Modern Stories and Songs from our booklet "Tzicbaltabi ti in Mama uch caachi" and other sources.

Each of these selections is preceded by an introductory note which provides more specific information about that selection. Also, should the translation which accompanies the selection be based on comparisons with other existing translations an explanation of who the authors of the other translations are and what is similar or different between the other translations and the one offered in this book is given.

In making the translations of the material in this anthology every effort was made to translate the selections word by word where that was possible. The intent has been to give the reader a feeling for how the language functions and it was felt that by adhering to what is written in Mayan as much as possible when making the translations that some of this feeling would come through. However of equal importance is making understandable translations. Where word by word translations were not possible because of word sequence or verbal forms, at least every word, expressed or implied, was included in the translated passages. At the very least, phrasing and punctuation are kept exactly the same as they appear in the original Mayan. This was done to facilitate cross-referencing between the translations and the originals.

The reader will be surprised, and perhaps confused, by the inconsistency in the use of verb tenses. This problem was noted in Section 75 in the chapter on Verbs. It seems safe to say, as was noted in that section, that a verb takes on its true tense not only with the aid of the form in which it appears, but also by the context in which it appears. In the following translations however, the verbs were most generally translated on form alone. This was done with the hope that in this way the reader would get some feeling for the workings of the Mayan language.

This approach was also applied to idiomatic expressions, again with the thought that this method will help the reader to get the feeling of the language. Hopefully by translating the way we have the translations are not rendered too unintelligible.

The orthography for all of these selections has been standardized to the orthography presented in this grammar. The reader interested in the original orthography for any one of these selections is referred to the source from which that selection is derived which is given in the introductory remarks to each selection.

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