Chajul Ixil love poem
U txiqub' vatz
Va kayeb'al tu txiqub' Vatz
A'e u josq'l uva' ni tzaj tu vaanima
Naletz kuxhaxh, tan toq sotzoq
A' vi ya'teb'al "ni sa' axh"!
(General project coordinator, Academy of Mayan Languages of Guatemala)
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Here is my little love poem in its ixil (ixhil) vesion, a Mayan language from the Mamean branch (Grand Mam group), from the Quiché department in Guatemala, more particularly spoken in the northern part of the western highlands (Cuchumatanes mountains).
There are three main ixil dialects, which are those spoken in: San Gaspar Chajul, Santa Mar´a Nebaj and San Juan Cotzal, three towns in the department of El Quich´e, an area known as the Ixil Triangle. The linguistic area of ixil extends further than, Salquil to the west and Ilom and Chel to the north.
There are some small differences between the dialects of each of these areas, but which allow inter-understandability. Both chajul and nebaj use name classifiers, which is not the case with cotzal ... the version presented here comes from Chajul!
Apart from the influence of languages spoken in Huehuetenango, ixil seems to have been influenced by languages of the plains such as Ch'olan languages, Ch'olti for example, surely due to the cultural domination of this ethnic group of the classical Mayan sphere.
There are 23 indigenous languages in Guatemala, and the country's poverty is obviously to be compared with the literacy deficit, and all the consequences that result for the language (s).
The linguistic policy of the country, which often wanted to prohibit the use of indigenous languages, was also for a very long time, full of consequences.
Ixil which is only an oral language used in the family framework, is today a threatened language, especially because of the genocide of which the Ixil people were victim.
Some efforts have been put in place by speakers. This mainly involves teaching the language to the youngest in certain schools.
Guatemala and the Ixils
Guatemala, a very poor country which lives mainly from the rural areas, has almost as many mixed-race people (Spaniards - natives) as native Indians (generally Mayas). The remaining 20% are of European origin.
The Ixils are a Mayan people who live in northern Guatemala (El Quiche). Some are in Mexico (States of Campeche and Quintana Roo).
In the early 80s, during the civil war which raged in Guatemala, they were victims of a genocide, since considered as an "inferior race"; 80% of their villages were razed, and nearly 2,000 of them murdered.