A Dictionary of the Maya Language as Spoken in Hocaba, Yucatan

Book Notice

A Dictionary of the Maya Language as Spoken in Hocaba, Yucatan, by Victoria Bricker, Eleuterio Po’ot Yah, and Ofelia Dzul de Po’ot (University of Utah Press, 1998)

Today, there are twenty Mayan languages spoken by the Maya from southern Mexico and throughout Mesoamerica. A Dictionary of the Maya Language as Spoken in Hocaba, Yucatan, is a welcome contribution to the body of scholarship dealing with one of those twenty languages. Even though this dictionary is limited to the language spoken in the area surrounding the community of Hocaba, Yucatec is spoken by several hundred thousand people.

This volume is one of the first dictionaries available to scholars that does not move first from Yucatec to Spanish and then from Spanish to English. The authors move directly from Yucatec to English, even though they readily point out that there are many Spanish colloquialisms in spoken Maya. The only disadvantage is that the reverse is not true—the dictionary does not move from English to Yucatec. This omission can prove a handicap to the beginning student who wishes to learn Maya.

The introduction to the volume explains the historical background of the authors’ fourteen-year project and details the dictionary’s organization, contributions, and limitations. The last eighty-one pages, entitled “Sketches of Maya Word Morphology and Inflections,” describe the organization of the Yucatecan language and provide great help to those interested in learning the structure, formation, sounds, and proper use of the language.


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