The Jakaltek Popti’ noun classifier system

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After having resisted adaptation in the 70s, the Jakaltek Popti’ (of the Q’anjob’alan branch of the Mayan family) noun classifier system has recently undergone extensive restructuring. These changes are largely due to the need that was felt to classify nouns for artifacts made of untraditional or new materials that have been incorporated into the culture, particularly nouns of Spanish origin. The absence of classifiers for these nouns meant an absence of anaphoric pronouns, in contrast to the obligatory article and pronominal forms organizing the vocabulary of the dominant colonial Spanish language through gender-marking. Discussions with the local branch of the Academy of Mayan Languages of Guatemala, the Jakaltek linguistic community, reveal their concern with revitalizing and standardizing the now clearly endangered Jakaltek Popti’.


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