The K'iche’ language (or Quiché), derived from Proto-Mayan, is part of the linguistic family of Mayan languages. It is spoken by the K'iche' Mayan communities, originally from Guatemala, although it is also present in southeastern Mexico due to the migration of refugees to that country during the 1980s. It has around two million speakers in Guatemala, a large percentage of speakers in Mexico, and is also known and spoken by foreigners in different parts of the world. The K'iche' Mayan language community is the most extensive in Guatemala, and K'iche' is the second most widespread language after Spanish. Many speakers of the K’iche language are bilingual in their native language and Spanish, although this phenomenon is less frequent in isolated rural areas.
The K'iche' language is recognized as a national language in Guatemala as a result of the "National Languages Law" approved by the Congress of Guatemala in 2003. It is spoken in sixty-five municipalities in seven departments (Sololá 5, Totonicapán 8, Quetzaltenango 12, El Quiché 16, Suchitepéquez 15, Retalhuleu 10).
Fortunately, in recent years, awareness towards the Maya Quiche language has increased, which has strengthened it and given it more exposure in schools, universities, the business world and in public life in general.
K’iche is constantly advancing and developing in different areas, above all in television programming, poetry, theater, music, literature and children's stories, etc.
Among the poets in the K'iche' language, it is worth mentioning Humberto Ak'abal, who portrays an indigenous conscience in his work (through its language, its greatness, its spirituality, its music and song) and impresses with his simplicity, whilst being forever connected with directly natural beings.
As for music this culture features Cecilia Saquic and Kab'awil among others, who sing inspired by the forests, lakes and by the great legacy that their grandparents have left behind. This is how the singers contribute to the strengthening of the K’iche Mayan culture.
The main Mayan radio stations notably include Maya K'at, which seeks to generate opinion, reflection, change, analysis, development, education and denunciation through a journalistic approach on diverse topics that interest and influence the large audience for whom the newscast is intended.
The broadcast starts by explaining the meaning of the day in the Mayan calendar, before taking a tour of Guatemala’s different departments, presented by reporters from the Mayan network. It includes interviews, an international section, sports, articles and guest columns and a scheduled editorial for FGER (a radio station upholding Mayan culture)
In terms of television, there is TV MAYA, the main objectives of which are to encourage the participation of Guatemalans in the preparation of content and/or programs to create a medium for inter-community and cross-cultural communication that serves to build a better world with equity, equality and freedom in a peaceful and tolerant environment.
The language is used in the 65 municipalities of Guatemala where the K’iche’ language is spoken and used constantly in the family nucleus, in schools, churches, in different radio and television media, and in any type of social event.
The K'iche' Mayan language has made great revelations and had a major impact on the current world, such as in the Popol Vuh, a compilation of mythical, legendary and historical tales of the K'iche' people. This is a book of great historical and spiritual value and it is comprised by a series of stories that try to explain the origin of the world, of civilization and of various phenomena that occur in nature, etc.
In the Mayan culture, its gastronomy and languages go hand-in-hand. Each ethnic group has its special dishes depending on the occasion. We have the following dishes:
"Uwa'l ik", the main ingredients of which are: beef, carrot, güisquil (edible root of chayote), potato, cabbage, corn, cilantro, chili pepper and dough.
"Atikamal" (Tamal wrapped in maxan leaves), made of beef or chicken, tomato, onion, and spices. It is the special food eaten at Christmas by all families and shared with their neighbors and friends.
"Sub’ y lej”, sacred food of the Mayas which always accompanies any dish.
In the Republic of Guatemala, a large percentage of the State work is in the Spanish language. However, at present there are many Mayan organizations that are involved in different social areas, either in politics or the justice system, and there are already a large number of Mayan legislators, mayors and leaders who also use this language. As far as education is concerned, Mayan courses have already been implemented in primary schools, high schools and some universities.
iDISC offers translation services in K'iche'.
For more information, do not hesitate to contact us.
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