nl en

Yucatec Maya


Admission requirements

Propadeuse Linguistics or Propadeuse Archaeology


Yucatec Maya (Mayathan) is one of the languages of the Mayan language family and is spoken on the Yucatán peninsula in Mexico by approximately 800.000 people. Yucatec Maya is a verb-initial language with a structure that is partly ergative (‘split-ergative’). It has an elaborate system of numeral classifiers and distinguishes several types of possession (alienable, inalienable). It has distinctive tone and glottalized consonants.

The present course includes a short introduction to the history of the Mayan language of Yucatán and a detailed overview of the grammar of contemporary Yucatec, including its basic vocabulary. The reading lessons are based on conversations, short stories and tales that were collected in Yucatan during fieldwork.
The following dictionary will be used intensively and prefereably should be bought via

Course objectives

Objective 1: The student acquires knowledge and insight into the grammar and sound system of Yucatec Maya. He/she is enabled to interpret and translate elementary Yucatec texts with the help of a dictionary.

Objective 2: He/she obtains a basis of knowledge and familiarity with the Yucatec language on which a practical user knowledge can be developed in a fieldwork situation, particularly in a context of anthropological or archaeological field research.

Objective 3: He/she acquires the linguistic basis that is necessary to undertake a study of colonial and pre-colonial Yucatec and its native hieroglyphic writing system.

Objective 4: He/she gains insight into the socioeconomic situation of the present-day Yucatec Maya.



Mode of instruction

Lecture and Seminar ### Course Load

280 hours

  • Hours spent on attending lectures and seminars: 26 hours

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature, time for completing assignments: 140

  • time to write a paper (including reading / research): 114

Assessment method

Presence and participation in class: 30%
Weekly assignments and homework: 30%
Final paper: 60%


This course is supported by Blackboard. Blackboard will be used to provide students with an overview of current affairs, as well as specific information about (components of) the course. Please see:

Reading list

The dictionary will be used intensively and can be bought at

V. Bricker, E. Po’ot Yah and O. Dzul de Po’ot, A dictionary of the Maya Language as spoken in Hocabá, Yucatán (University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City 1998)

W. Hanks, Referential practice: language and lived space among the Maya (University of Chicago Press, Chicago 1990)

A. Re Cruz, The two milpas of Chan Kom: a study of socioeconomic and political transformations in a Maya community (State University of New York Press: Albany, 1996)

Christine A. Kray, The sense of tranquility: bodily practice and ethnic classes in Yucatán (Ethnology 44(4):337-55, 2005)


Enrollment through uSis for the course and the examination or paper is mandatory.

Contact Information