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One of the ways LSA anticipates the language needs of its clients is by staying on top of migration flows across the world. The need for language services support in Mayan languages across the healthcare, law, non-profit sectors and other industries is imminent. Did you know that there are over 20,000 Mayas living in San Francisco? Interested in learning more about the Mayan language family? Check out some of the fun facts we’ve compiled for you below!

Did You Know?

  • Just as people from China don’t speak “Chinese” but rather Mandarin, Cantonese or another specific language, the Mayan people do not speak “Mayan.” They speak one of more than 25 languages in the Mayan language family.
  • Guatemala recognizes at least 20 Mayan languages within its borders.
  • Mexico recognizes 10 Mayan languages in its southeastern region.
  • Mayan languages are mutually unintelligible, meaning a speaker of one will not easily understand a speaker of another, though they may share cultural traits within a group.
  • There may be as many as six million native speakers of Mayan languages living in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico and the United States.
  • Most Mayan language speakers prefer their native tongue to Spanish or English.
  • A few Mayan languages are tonal, such as Yucatec Maya.
  • Most Mayan languages lack the sounds /b/, /d/, /g/ and /z/.
  • Word order varies among the Mayan languages, while English is usually represented as Subject-Verb-Object (SVO).
  • Vocabulary for all comes from Proto-Mayan, spoken 5,000 years ago. Some words are borrowed from Spanish or other Mayan languages.

Want a listen? Linguist Nikte Sis Iboy presents her work on the Mayan language of Guatemala Kaqchikel in this video. She does so in Achi, another Mayan language of Guatemala!

We are proud to partner with professional Mayan interpreters to meet the needs of our clients. Contact an LSA representative today to learn more!