domingo, 29 de mayo de 2011

Ch'ol Blog 2011, No. 1

Dear friends here we are back on our blog. Sorry for the prolonged silence but we had a busy time.
So combing back I decided to share a new idea I recently has reading once again a great book of a friend of mine called "Continuity and Change in Text and Image at Chichén Itzá, Yucatán, Mexico". While describing the texts of the Chilam B'alam I noticed that the expressions used in the text for "Great Decent" and "Small Decent" are maybe actually not well understood since the sixteenth century. 
You'll ask what does Ch'ol has to do with Yucatan... well in this case it is at least a good introduction to the expressions used for left and right in Ch'ol. 
These two directions are called ñoh k'öb' for right and tz'eh k'ób' for left. The reason for this comes from the way the ancient Maya understood their world. North and south are for us above and down while East and West right and left. The Maya saw (and still see) all this turned by 90°. For them South is right and North is left. Actually ñoh k'öb' for right and tz'eh k'ób' for left mean right hand and left hand.

Now the interesting thing is that the  "Great Decent" (Noh emal) and "Small Decent" (Tz'e emal) came one from the south west and the other from B'akalar or better the south east. 
Now what happens if you sit in Yucatan and you want to tell me that these folks where coming from over there (the south) the croud that came with the "Small Decent" (Tz'e emal) would come from you Left Hand Side, while those coming  "Great Decent" (Noh emal) would come from the Right Hand Side!

Yes, exactly like in Ch'ol! So since David Stuart proved that Noh k'ab' and Tz'eh k'ab where around already in Classic time... I'd say that this is what is meant with Noh emal and Tz'e emal, it's the people that come from the right side and those that came from the left. 

Stick around, there will be more Ch'ol news in these days..... 

jueves, 14 de octubre de 2010

Ch'ol Blog 2010, No. 8

We have been asked for the meaning of "Tumbala". Well, as many modern place names here in the region, there are different views and opinions about their meaning and interpretation. Tumbala, if you ask modern ch'oleros, comes from tyun ("round stone", the modern version of Ch'olan tuun) and bala (Spanish for bullet), so together it mean to locals "the stone bullet" used for shotguns. This is quite similar to another Maya-Spanish interpretation, namely the name of the town of San Juan Chamula. Here the interpretation of the name is ch'am (to take) and mula (the mule).
I personally don't feel that these are correct translations, but more modern interpretations. As for Tumbala, I can accept the first part of tyun. The rest need further investigation. I will get back to it in future posts about local place names!

sábado, 9 de octubre de 2010

Ch'ol Blog 2010, No. 7

Let us start from the basics:
K'iñ .... day
Uh .... month (moon)
Ha'b' .... Year

So now let us orientate around ourselves in time:
wöleyi ... today
ihk'öl ... tomorrow
cha'b'i ... in two days
huxb'i ... in three days
ak'b'ix ... yesterday / ak'b'i ta majlil k'yum ... Yesterday the boss left
ch'öbijix ... two days ago
i yuxpe'le k'iñ ... three days ago
yomty'o' huxpe' k'iñ ... three days are missing (untill...)
huxpe' ty'o' k'iñ yom ... three days are missing (untill...)

About rapidness

humuk hach tyalol ... I come rapidly (now I come)
ora hach tyalol ... he comes rapidly
pityañoñ tz'itya' humuk ... wait for me one moment

viernes, 8 de octubre de 2010

Ch'ol Blog 2010, No. 6

This might sound very mathematical, but it is more about parts or pieces of a bigger object.
The first fraction is "half": ohlil (lit. his/her/its heart)
ohlil lak papaya..... half papaya
aohlil.......your waist (lit. your half)
So there are two interesting things here: you would expect to read i yohlil
for his/her/its heart. But this would rather mean in his center. Actually the root
is the same ohl for heart, but to hold the two meanings apart, it seems to me, they don't use a possessive for the ohlil when if it "half".
Just an example: Añix hunpe' motzo' ty yohlil papaya...There's a worm in the middle of the papaya!
Next fraction: Less than half. I'm sorry to disappoint the reader, if he was expecting 1/4 or 3/7, there is no such thing in Ch'ol, but we have this:
chömb'eñon lak papaya pero ya' tz'ityya' mach ohlil....
Sell me papaya, give me a bit of it, but not half.
This means always less than half. So if you want to be more specific how much you want you will need to say it like this:
...pero ya' hunke lak papaya .....  but give me a slice (and indicate with the space between index and thumbhow how much you want - the ke glyph!!) This are "ringlike" slices.
...pero che' sisili lak papaya ..... but give me a slice (slices in shape of a canoe)

More general:
Ahk'eñon tz'ityya' mach k'omik pejtyelel.... Give me a part, I don't want all.

And finally, if the economical situation doesn't allow more:
Ahk'eñon hunxe'pel .... un pedacito!

Ch'ol Blog 2010, No. 5

How to say "only"
For us it seems easy to say "only three, please!", but in Ch'ol it is a bit more difficult. The same problem arises with the simple word "yes", but this will be discussed in another post.
So if you want to say "only three chickens" you need to add -hax to the classifier:
Huxkahtyhax muty.
Ho'pe'hax k'in...... Only five days.

Anyway, most Ch'oles (for reasons that escape European understanding) avoid words like "only" and other descriptions of scarcity that we have. They more simply describe the amount that is there. Is instead of saying "I will stay there for only three days" they say "Three days I'll be there". It is so "unnatural" to say only to them, that most Ch'oles don't even know the translation for the Spanish word "solo" ("only" not "alone")! 

Ch'ol Blog 2010, No. 4

How to combine numbers and words:
As all Maya languages, Ch'ol uses classifiers that combine with numbers before the object that is counted. This has to be seen as part of the "nature" of numbers. They simply can't stay alone... As you may have noticed in the Number List the basic classicifer is -pe', like the -pel of Yucateco.
The basic classifiers are:
-pe'       (this one is good for everything, it can substitute even the other classifiers)
-tykil    (for humans only, we can find this one already in the Classic Period)
-kohty  (for animals only)
-ty'ek    (for trees and lumber)
-ke       (for slices cut from something. Remember the ke syllable!)
-kuch    (loads of all sorts)

Now how to use them:
hunpe' k'in .......  one day
cha'pe tzima' lak ixim ......2 "jicaras" of corn (note lak ixim our (affective!) corn)
huxkohty chitiam...... 3 pigs
chönty'ek tye'...... 4 trees

As we saw in the Number List the number 20 doesn't use classifiers.
hunk'al i wuhty lak ixim .... 20 corn grains (lit. faces)
hunk'al i b'ök lak ixim ..... 20 corn grains (lit. bones)

lunes, 4 de octubre de 2010

Ch'ol Blog 2010, No. 3

BTW, this Blog should give people interested in Ch'ol language the possibility to make inquiries about the vocabulary, grammar or expressions. Being in Palenque, Chiapas it's a question of minutes to have the answer to the questions! So feel free to ask a question!

jueves, 30 de septiembre de 2010

Ch'ol Blog 2010, No. 2

Here goes the first entry: This is something I like very much about Ch'ol. In contrary to most other Maya languages Ch'ol speakers still use numbers in Maya and not in Spanish. The list that I post here is not reconstructed or a show of rare and exotic knowledge. This list was recorded with the help of our hotel personal.
The woman the knows more is (surprisingly to me) the only one that doesn't know to write and read properly. To here all this numbers was fascinating, it was the first time that I heard them pronounced by a native speaker that didn't learn them from some mayanist. 
Hun pe’
Cha’ pe’
Hux pe’
Chön pe’
Ho’ pe’
Wök pe’
Wuk pe’
Waxök pe’
B’olum pe’
Luhum pe’
Hunluhum pe’ (11 - NB)
Cha’luhum pe’ (12 - NB)
Huxluhum pe’
Chönluhum pe’
Ho’luhum pe’
Wökluhum pe’
Wukluhum pe’
Waxökluhum pe’
B’olumjuhun pe’
Hun k’al (no numerical classifier)
Hunk’alhun pe’
Hunk’alcha’ pe’
Hunk’alhux pe’
Hunk’alchön pe’
Hunk’alho’ pe’
Hunk’alwök pe’
Hunk’alwuk pe’
Hunk’alwaxök pe’
Hunk’alb’olum pe’
Hunk’alluhum pe’
Hunk’alhunluhum pe’
Hunk’alcha’luhum pe’
Hunk’alhuxluhum pe’
Hunk’alchönluhum pe’
Hunk’alho’luhum pe’
Hunk’alwökluhum pe’
Hunk’alb’olumjuhun pe’
Cha’ k’al (no numerical classifier)
Cha’k’alhun pe’
Cha’k’alcha’ pe’
Cha’k’alhux pe’
Cha’k’alchön pe’
Cha’k’alho’ pe’
Cha’k’alwök pe’
Cha’k’alwuk pe’
Cha’k’alwaxök pe’
Cha’k’alb’olum pe’
Cha’k’alluhum pe’
Cha’k’alhunluhum pe’
Cha’k’alcha’luhum pe’
Cha’k’alhuxluhum pe’
Cha’k’alchönluhum pe’
Cha’k’alho’luhum pe’
Cha’k’alwökluhum pe’
Cha’k’alb’olumjuhun pe’
Hux k’al (60 no numerical classifier)
Chön k’al (80 no numerical classifier)
Ho k’al (no numerical classifier)
Wök k’al (no numerical classifier)
Wuk k’al (no numerical classifier)
Waxök k’al (no numerical classifier)
B’olum k’al (no numerical classifier)
Luhum k’al (no numerical classifier)
Hunluhum k’al (no numerical classifier)
Cha’luhum k’al (no numerical classifier)
Huxluhum k’al (no numerical classifier)
Chönluhum k’al (no numerical classifier)
Ho’luhum k’al (no numerical classifier)
Wökluhum k’al (no numerical classifier)
Wukluhum k’al (no numerical classifier)
Waxökluhum k’al (no numerical classifier)
B’olumjuhun k’al (no numerical classifier)
Hun B’ak’ (400 no numerical classifier)
Hun B’ak’ Hun pe’
Hun B’ak’ Cha’ pe’
Hun B’ak’ Hux pe’
Hun B’ak’ Chön pe’
Hun B’ak’ Ho’ pe’
Hun B’ak’ Wök pe’
Hun B’ak’ Wuk pe’
Cha’ B’ak’
Hux B’ak’
Waxök pe’ Mil (8.000: here the pure Ch'ol stops)

miércoles, 29 de septiembre de 2010

Ch'ol Blog 2010, No. 1

This Blog will be about the Maya Ch'ol language spoken in northern Chiapas, Mexico. Ch'ol is divided into two mayor dialects: the Ch'ol of Tila and the Ch'ol
of Tumbala. Since I live in Palenque where mostly Ch'ol from Tumbala is spoken, I will deal mostly with this variant. By the way, it is the one that is less documented by the SEP, a fact that disturbs many Ch'ol speakers. So we'll do even some "social justice" here.  
Stick around for the first post about Ch'ol language, rite and culture...