Published December 24, 2018
This video was recorded by Nat Pendleton and features Yuatecan speaker Manuel Poot. Yuatecan, also known as Peninsular Maya or Yucutan Maya, was spoken by roughly 735,000 people in Mexico as of 2000, with an international population totaling more than 766,000. Yuatecan belongs to the Yuatecan-Core branch of the Mayan language family spoken in Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala. The Yuatecan branch is divided into Mopan-Itza and Yucatac-Lacandon languages, forming a closely linked grouping that nevertheless presents difficulties in comprehension--therefore Mopan-Itza and Yucatac-Lacandon are not quite mutually intelligible. Yucatec Maya, known simply as 'Maya' to its speakers, is the most widely spoken Mayan language in Mexico, whereas Lacandón is spoken by about 1,000 speakers in a few villages surrounding Selva Lacandona in Chiapas. Whereas Proto-Mayan possessed a strict CVC syllable structure (allowing consonant clusters only across syllable boundaries), many Mayan languages now contain complex consonant clusters due to vowel loss. Yuatec is one of four contemporary Mayan languages that make use of tone, although each differs in its implementation.