Kaqchikel is one of the 30 Mayan languages (21 are spoken in Guatemala, 9 in Mexico). It belongs to the K’iche’ branch, and is close to K’ichee’ and Tz’utujiil.
Most speakers of Kaqchikel live in the volcanic region of Chimaltenango, in central-western Guatemala, near Lake Atitlán. It’s a poor area, essentially rural, where corn farming plays an extensive role. Kaqchikel is one of the most widely spoken Mayan languages, along with K’ichee’, Yukateko, Wasteko, Mam, and Q’eqchi. The number of people who speak Kaqchikel is estimated around half a million, most of whom are Spanish bilinguals.
Despite accounts of a promising demography, Kaqchikel lacks diffusion among the young generations and faces a serious decline. Thus beyond the language itself, a whole part of the Maya culture and knowledge is threatened with extinction.
Presentation on the Kaqchikel language by linguist Nikte Sis Iboy, in Achi
We’d like you to hear linguistNikte Sis Iboywho was there with us. As you’ll see in this video, Nikte’s moving intervention in a call for the preservation of Kaqchikel and all Mayan languagesfor that matter, as the loss of alanguageultimately implies the loss of knowledge, culture and identity.
As you’ll also notice, Nikte address us not in Kaqchikel, but in her own mother tongue, Achi, another Mayan language, dialectal variation of K’ichee’.
One of the objectives of our team, who shot the videos on the Kaqchikel language, was to attend a traditional Maya New Year ceremony, this year precisely taking place on February 22, 2009. Sorosoro was granted the rare opportunity to film this celebration.
Sorosoro is a program carried by the WOLACO Association (World Languages Conservancy) and supported by the Laboratory of Excellence ASLAN (Advanced Studies on language complexity) from the University of Lyon.