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Maya Languages

The Maya speak native languages that have existed in the Americas for thousands of years and these Maya languages remain the primary language for millions of people in Guatemala, Belize and southern Mexico.  The Maya majority lives in the nation-state of Guatemala, which has over 20 Maya languages and about 50 dialects.  Maya languages generally remain mutually unintelligible.  Although many of the Maya people speak Spanish as well as their Maya language; some will not, especially women and children.  Some Maya speak a Spanish dialect called “la castilla”, a non-standard Spanish.  Spanish interpreters in the United States might not be adequate, and even Maya who speak Spanish might have trouble with interpreters from other nationalities who use a different vocabulary, and who treat the Maya as if they were native speakers rather than secondary speakers. The Maya languages should be recognized as true languages with long histories,  and not related to Spanish or English,  given that European languages came to the Americas a relatively short time ago. The language barrier often goes unnoticed and this can have negative consequences. 

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