Language, g and Writing System

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1 The Mayan Culture, Language, g and Writing System Stephen Klimashousky

2 The Mayan Civilization ili The Mayan people lived in the area now known as the Yucatan Peninsula, Guatemala and Belize for many years. Some estimates say the Mayans have been around since 2000 BC. They had a very complex society rich with their culture which can still be seen in the region today.

3 Culture of Maya The Mayan people had a very interesting and diverse culture. Mayan people may have been around since 2000 BC, but their Golden Age of culture was really between the years 250 AD and around 900 AD. These people were warlike and religious, and lived in and around a few citystates. There were around 25 of these cities, each with their own culture and influence.

4 Mayan City-States t These city-states were the centers of Mayan culture, and in the Classic period, these were where the Mayan people went for many activities. Tikal, klcopan, Palenque and Caracol were large cities in this time. After, Uxmal and Chichen Itza in the Yucatan became large and powerful. Populations of these cities is questionable. Tikal estimates range from 11, ,

5 Rlii Religious Ceremonies Sacrifices were performed on these temples and were a big part of Maya culture.

6 Stratified tifi Society The Mayan people lived in a very organized and ordered society, with a ruling class of elites at the top who lived in palaces in the cities, down to peasants working the fields out in the countryside.

7 Classic Maya Society Classic Mayan society had been around even before the beginning of it, which is said to be 250 AD. The reason this is said to be the beginning of the Classic period is because that is when the writing system developed, or was first seen to be in use. Examples of Classic culture include: cities of limestone, a ruling class of elites, royal tombs, trade of luxury goods, elements of the calendar, dated stone monuments, and a writing system.

8 Monument Dating The first Maya writing appeared on a limestone stela found in Tikal dating 292 AD. The Mayans erected these stelae whenever any event of worth occurred. They were erected in all major cities, and were usually found in front of the temples.

9 No More Monuments These monuments continued to be put up periodically in the cities for many years after that, but starting in the late 700s AD, some of the smaller cities stopped putting them up. Soon after even large cities stopped Copan s last was 822, Caracol s last was 859, and Tikal didn t last much longer. Its last monument was 869.

10 The End of an Era No one knows why these stelae stopped being put up, but seemingly gyit was because the Maya were no longer in the area and unable to put them up. This is either because of soil depletion and poor farming techniques of the Mayans, leading the mass starvation, or the take-over by another civilization.

11 Post-Classic tcl Maya After this the Mayans still existed, but not living in their cities or putting up stela. There was a brief resurrection of Maya culture on the Yucatan peninsula, with Chichen Itza being particularly powerful. Eventually, the Spanish came and took over everything.

12 The Mayan Writing System This writing system started its existence, at least in terms of what can be seen and dated, in 292 AD. Between that time and the end of the Classic period, many inscriptions are seen throughout the region, mostly on the stela in the cities.

13 More Writing Besides the stela, writing has been found on a number of media door lintels and panels, carved stuccos, painted murals, and carved on pottery vases and bowls. Writing was usually aligned with pictures so that besides the logograms in the writing itself, there is a visual as to what is being talked about, making the expression even easier to comprehend.

14 Glyphs The Mayan writing system was both logographic and syllabic, but any logogram could be written in phonemes.

15 Landa s Alphabet In the 16 th century, after the Spanish arrived in the New World, there was an attempt to comprehend the Maya script by the bishop of Yucatan Diego de Landa. He described the Mayan writing system as an alphabet, and listed Spanish equivalents next to 29 signs.

16 Knorosov Figures Things Out Then, in 1952, Yuri Knorosov, an intimidating looking man who loved cats, figured out what others for years before couldn t. What Landa had given us was not an alphabet, but a syllabary. Knorosov showed that the glyphs are all syllables, many of which are allograms (alternative spellings) of each other.

17 Glyph Roots The most common root in Mayan was a CVC sort, and in general, this was written with two syllabograms, with the vowel of the second glyph suppressed. For the most part, the suppressed vowel was synharmonic with the expressed vowel. However, if the writer wanted to express that the vowel was more complex, the writer would use a disharmonic vowel.

18 The Mayan Language The Mayan Language family is as old as the people are and it has seen a lot of language change. After its genesis it split into six language subgroups based on geographical area. Many of these dialects are still spoken today in the same area the Mayan civilization used to exist.

19 Proto-Mayan This is a correspondence chart, one way historical linguists i see family similarities, and can tell languages apart based on similar sounds kept or changed.

20 What this Means for Writing Based on reconstructions and an analysis of the writing system, it has been determined that the Cholan language and its daughters Chorti and Cholti were the ones used in the Mayan writing system.

21 How do we know? How can we be certain that Cholan was the language used for the writing system? Well there are several examples within the writing system itself that point to Cholan being the mother language.

22 Phonetic Explanations There are examples of words as well that prove that Cholan was very influential: Lahun Chan Ten Sky this is a deity name from Cholan [chan] sky (Yucatecan [ka an] sky proto-mayan [ka ŋ] sky ). Tun stone, year this comes from Cholan [tun] stone which h comes from proto-mayan [tooŋ] There are even examples in non-mayan languages of loan words from Cholan, showing how truly influential and wide-spread it was. Such a spread could most likely only come from a script that would show its phonemes to many more people than would normally come in contact with a language.

23 Yucatecan There was also writing seen from these people once the lowland regions not on the Yucatan Peninsula were out of their Classic period. However, these people took their writing system directly from the Cholan people, and did not want to change it much. In order for this to happen, these languages must have had a lot of contact with each other.

24 City-States t This shows the some of the Mayan citystates in coordination with where the language would be spoken. For this whole area and cities so far apart to be using the Cholan writing system means it must have been VERY powerful and influential.

25 Thanks for Listening! i

26 Rf References Campbell, Lyle. The Implications of Mayan Historical Linguistics for Glyphic Research. Phoneticism in Mayan Hieroglyphic Writing. 9. (1984): Kaufman, Terrence S. and Norman, William M. An Outline of Proto- Cholan Phonology, Morphology and Vocabulary. Phoneticism in Mayan Hieroglyphic Writing. 9. (1984): Justeson, John S. The Representational Conventions of Mayan Hieroglyphic Writing. Word and Image in Maya Culture. (1989): Coe, Michael D. and Van Stone, Mark. Reading the Maya Glyphs. New York, NY: Thames and Hudson, Coe, Michael D. Breaking the Maya Code. New York, NY: Thames and Hudson, Thompson, J. Eric S. The Civilization of the Mayas. Chicago, IL: Chicago Natural History Museum Press, 1958.

27 Image References / / h / muchis mayan pottery worth html Campbell, Lyle. Historical Linguistics: an Introduction. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2004.

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