This book will fill a gap not yet covered by other published Q’eqchi’ language materials. While in recent years there have appeared several professional and comprehensive Q’eqchi’ grammars, vocabularies and bilingual lexicons, they almost always pair Q’eqchi’ exclusively with Spanish. This means that native speakers of English or Q’eqchi’ who don’t speak Spanish must first acquire it before undertaking serious study in the other language. It is my hope that this book will be a useful resource, for example, for the non-Spanish speaking medical or religious volunteer working in Q’eqchi’ communities as well as for Q’eqchi’ speakers seeking to work or study in English-speaking countries.
The Q'eqchi' are the predominant Maya group in the central highlands and northern lowlands of Guatemala. Geographically, Q'eqchi' is the largest Maya language group in Guatemala. Q'eqchi' is spoken in the northern Quiche', in Alta and Baja Verapaz, Isabal, Petén and southern Belize.
In sharp contrast to many other Mayan linguistic communities where indigenous languages are on a path to extinction, Q’eqchi’ is a thriving language. For example:
- There are approximately 1 million speakers; this places Q’eqchi’ 2nd among all 30 living Mayan languages.
- The number of native speakers has more than doubled in the last 25 years.
- The current geographic footprint of the Q’eqchi’ linguistic community (QLC) covers as much area as all other Guatemala Mayan groups combined.
- The area encompassed by the QLC is expanding within Guatemala, and includes a significant number of speakers in southern Belize and Mexico and El Salvador as well.
- Q’eqchi’ has the highest proportion of monolingual speakers in all Guatemalan Mayan linguistic communities.
- Q’eqchi’ has the highest rate of literacy among all Guatemalan Mayan linguistic communities. Reported at 10.3% in 2010, but still three times greater than the next closest Mayan language K’iche’.
- Q’eqchi’ is culturally and linguistically assimilative, with a word stock reflecting absorption of words and concepts from other Mayan languages—both living and extinct. Q’eqchi’ has a long history of assimilating other groups (indigenous and European) into its linguistic community.
- The language is in vigorous use, with standardization and literature being sustained through a widespread system of institutionally supported education.
- According to Sergio Romero, a linguist and anthropologist at the University of Texas at Austin, now with approximately one million speakers "Q’eqchi’ is without a doubt the most rapidly expanding indigenous language in the Americas."
Risks and challenges
After several years of intermittent work, as of April 22, 2015 this project is over 90% complete. Some sections in the dictionary are still being expanded. Additional pre-publication work on editing, design and production also needs to be completed. I will be in Guatemala for several weeks in April and May working on this, among other things. I estimate it will be ready for shipping in early July 2015.
Any funds generated by this campaign beyond the project goal will be applied towards converting the dictionary database into a digitized online version of the lexicon with many additional features such as audio files for word pronunciation assistance and searchable indices that render examples of actual usage based on search terms. This will be located on the web at www.mayaglot.com.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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