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The development of language - Essay Example

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The word Mayan refers to the languages spoken by Maya people. On the other hand, the word Maya refers to other cultural and social aspects of Maya civilization. Ancient ruins and establishments of Maya civilization are scattered over…
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The development of language
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The development of language

Today, millions of people speak one of the twenty-eight Mayan languages as their primary language. Apart from for the Waxtek speakers of Veracruz, Mayan languages occupy a large geographical zone in eastern Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, western Honduras, and western El Salvador (Sharer & Traxler 23).
Mayan language family includes 31 languages spoken in Guatemala, Belize and southern Mexico. According to general classification, it has five major branches. It is frequently believed that Huastecan split off in the very beginning, followed by Yucatecan and then all other groups branched out (Campbell 71-72).Most of the Mayan speakers are partially bilingual and their second language is Spanish or English in case of Belize(Sharer & Traxler, 23).
Other languages have great influence on all Mayan languages. For instance, there is grammatical evidence for prehistoric connections between the Mayan and the adjoining language family, MixeZoquean. Borrowing words started between these groups in the Pre-classic age and was generally from Mixe-Zoquea to Mayan. For instance, in addition to ajaw (lord) and kakaw (cocoa or chocolate), quite a few basic Mayan kinship and body-part terms came from Mixe-Zoquean. Most of the Mayan languages have few numbers of loanwords from Nahuatal. Nahuatal is the language of native peoples from Central Mexico, particularly post-classic Mexica, or Aztecs. Most probably these loanwords refer to the rising importance of the Central Mexican states in the Post-classic era. The Maya not only borrowed but also influenced other languages. For instance, more or less extinct language of southeastern Guatemala, Xinca does not belong to Mayan language family but it has a large number of loanwords from Mayan. Since European contact, the process of this exchange continued with Spanish and English. A very good example is the word kakaw that has entered English as cocoa just like Mayan word xook as the ... Read More
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