Preserving the Mayan Languages and Culture

Guatemala: The Maya

In Guatemala, a country ravaged by civil war for most of the past 50 years, the Mayans make up around half of the population. But the fields of education, politics and the media all belong exclusively to the Spanish language, while smiling white faces and messages in Spanish look down on the Guatemalan people from billboards across the country.

Many Mayans complain of feeling like foreigners in their own land – a sentiment compounded by the dominance of Spanish.

Notice the “eye” symbol: it is the symbol for zero.  This mathematical quantity was developed by the Maya independently from the Arabs.  The Romans had I, II, III.  This discovery allowed advanced mathematical computations in astronomy and mathematics.  
As significant was their written language and the development of a calendar more advanced than that used in Western countries today.  As you watch the excellent video below you will learn how the the bishop, Landa, burned almost all of the books written by the Mayan scribes over centuries.
The indigenous Maya are recovering their languages and culture after centuries of repression and genocide.

Tikal Rising from the Jungle

About carlos

I'm a curious person, of reasonable intellect, "on the beach" (retired) and enjoying my interest in anthropology, language, civil rights, and a few other areas. I've been a hippie/student/aerospace tech writer in the '60s, a witness to the Portuguese revolution in the ‘70s, a defense test engineer and witness to the Guatemalan genocide in the '80s, and a network engineer for an ISP in the '90s. Now I’m a student and commentator until my time is up. I've spent time under the spell of the Mesoamerican pyramids and the sweet sound of the Portuguese language. I've lived in Europe, traveled in Brazil, Central America, Iceland, New Zealand, and other places. My preferred mode of travel is with a backpack and I eat (almost) anything local. Somehow, many of the countries I have been to have had civil unrest (for which I was not responsible). I'm open to correspond with anyone who might share my liberal, humanist interests. I live in San Buenaventura, California.
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4 Responses to Preserving the Mayan Languages and Culture

  1. ritaroberts says:

    Hi Carlos.I am all for all form of culture retaining there own heritage especially their language. These people need their identity

    • carlos says:

      Thanks for the comment, Rita. Mesoamerica is a favorite area of mine since I have spent some time wandering through the ruins and touring on the “chicken” buses and witnessing the beauty and tragedy of the highlands and lowlands.
      I’d like to mention that I enjoy your blog as well. I was particularly impressed by how your blog has progressed over time.

      • ritaroberts says:

        Thanks for your response Carlos and nice comments re my blog.I do feel more confident with it now. It was always a case of what to write about but I do like to vary it a little. As you probably gather Im not very political minded but respond to your Mesoamerica articles.

        • carlos says:

          So good to hear from you again. I have not always been political. In the 60’s I was against the Viet Nam war, but youth is often upset by perceived injustices. During my working life I was working in the aerospace and then defense industries and had a security clearance to protect. After I retired my intellectual interests expanded to anthropology and history (Homo erectus to the Viet Nam war, roughly). I was increasingly unable to separate privilege from those who die ignorantly for others. I mark Hobbes’ “Leviathan” in the 1640s as a pivotal point for the beginning of the modern age. With fewer economic restraints my conscience was free to consider the issues of those less fortunate. I still include as much poetry and art as I can for it is all part of the great adventure of (wo)mankind. Cheers!

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