Essay on The Mayan Languages of Guatemala and Mexico

Essay on The Mayan Languages of Guatemala and Mexico

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Data Analysis Essay
The Mayan languages of Guatemala and Mexico can be called a “linguistic area” (Study Guide, 2014, p. 102) because they are geographically in close proximity and the “languages” of the speech communities there would “have been spoken side by side for many generations” (ibid). Due to long-term contact between speech communities in this linguistic area, bilingualism and language mixing in the speeches of the close-knit natives are sure to have existed due to demographic movements. (Winford, 2003, p. 19). However, when language contact involves foreign and native languages, communicating in a common language becomes an issue. Therefore, to overcome language barriers, lexical items are borrowed from the former into everyday discourse or vice versa. This occurs either unconsciously or consciously by natives, or foreign language speakers through code-switching if they want to express an idea in a language that can be understood by both parties. “Borrowing may vary in degree and kind, from casual to heavy lexical borrowing … “(Winford, 2003, p. 254, cited in Study Guide, 2014). It is clear in the given data, casual borrowing of Spanish lexical items is a common feature of the types of loanwords adopted and nativized by the Mayan speech communities of Guatemala and Mexico. This essay intends to discuss the social and cultural contact between Spanish, the donor language, and the native speakers of the Mayan speech communities, who are the recipients. The nativization processes and meaning changes will be highlighted. Also, worth mentioning are the possible reasons why borrowing took place.
Borrowing of lexical items was “contact-induced” (ibid) during the period of Spanish conquest of Mexico (Study Guide, 2014, ...

... middle of paper ...

...nish lexical items occurred over a long period of time. Most of the Spanish donor words nativized into the Mayan languages are from the colonial dialect. The Spanish lexical items did not affect the syntactic and grammatical structures of the Mayan languages which is typical of borrowing during code-switching and inserting loaned single words into speeches do not affect the grammatical structures of the languages.

1. Study Guide (2014). Study guide for Historical and Comparative Linguistics. Massey
University, School of Linguistic Studies.

2. Winford, D. (2003). An introduction to contact linguistics. Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell
Publishing, (pages 11 – 22).

3. Winford, D. (2003). An introduction to contact linguistics. Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell
Publishing, (pages 42 – 51).

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