Itzaʼ

Itzaʼ is a Yucatecan Mayan language spoken by the Itza people mainly in the village of San José on the north shore of Lake Petén Itzaʼ in Petén department in northern Guatemala. It also used to be spoken in parts of Belize. In 2019 there were 410 native speakers of Itzaʼ, all of whom were older adults. Younger people have shifted to Spanish.

When the Yucatan Peninsula was governed from Chichen Itza between about 600 AD and 1697, Itzaʼ was the main language of administration in the area, and this was the last independent Maya nation in Mesoamerica.

Speaking Itzaʼ was banned by the government of Guatemala in the 1930s. In the 1980s the Maya people started to become increasingly interested in their culture and languages, and the Academia de Lenguas Mayas de Guatemala (ALMG), or Guatemalan Academy of Mayan Languages, which was set up in 1990 to promote and revitalize Itzaʼ and other Mayan languages.

Itzaʼ is also known as Icaiche Maya, Itz, Itzaj, Itzaj Maya, Itzaʼ Maya, Maya or Petén Itza’ Maya. It is an officially recognized language in Guatemala.

Itzaʼ can be written with the Latin alphabet using an orthography created by the ALMG. There are some publications in the language, including a dictionary, grammar and other texts.

Itzaʼ alphabet (Tz’iib’alil Maya Itza’)

Itzaʼ alphabet (Tz’iib’alil Maya Itza’)

Notes

D, F, G, Ñ, R, RR and V are only used in loanwords from Spanish.

Download an alphabet chart for Itzaʼ (Excel)

Sample videos in and about Itzaʼ

Links

Information about Itzaʼ
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Itzaʼ_language
https://www.ethnologue.com/language/itz
https://www.unesco.org/archives/multimedia/document-1784
http://www.native-languages.org/itzaj.htm
http://www.famsi.org/spanish/mayawriting/dictionary/boot/itza_based-on_hofling1991.pdf

Mayan languages

Achi, Akatek, Awakatek, Chontal Maya, Ch’ol, Chorti, Chuj, Huasteco, Itzaʼ, Ixil, Jakaltek, Kaqchikel, Ki'che', Lacandon, Mam, Mocho’, Mopan, Poqomam, Poqomchiʼ, Q’anjob’al, Q'eqchi', Sakapultek, Sipakapense, Tektitek, Tojolabal, Tsotsil, Tzeltal, Tz'utujil, Uspantek, Yucatec Maya

Languages written with the Latin alphabet

Page created: 29.11.21. Last modified: 01.12.21

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