Home > Research


Areas of Research

Structures of Mayan languages
Mayan languages are under-studied and have grammatical features which make them of significant interest for linguists. Improving our knowledge of the structure and use of Mayan languages is a major, ongoing research focus of the Guatemala field station. Excerpts from Pedro Mateo Pedro's book on Q'anjob'al Maya can be found here.

Child language development and assessment
One of the best ways to assess young children's language development is by looking at their vocabulary.  We are working in collaboration with Wuqu' Kawoq to develop a vocabulary assessment tool for use with children learning Kaqchikel as their native language.  By creating a means of assessing whether a child is lagging behind his or her peers, we can offer health care providers with a way to identify  children in need of language intervention.

Mayan language contact
There are around 30 Mayan languages and while researchers have studied and documented a number of them, this documentation has been done language by language. In practice, many of these languages have been in contact with each other (as well as with Spanish) over extended periods of time. Investigating the interactions between these languages - and the resulting language changes - will improve documentation and resources for Mayan languages, and inform maintenance and revitalization efforts.

Future Research
Research areas in development include collaborations with experts in:

  • public health
  • nutrition
  • education
  • migration
  • agriculture

Publications, Projects, & Presentations Facilitated by the Field Station

2018 Field School - Researcher Presentations at Universidad del Valle de Guatemala (June 2018)

Subject Preference and Ergativity (NSF grant), Maria Polinsky (UMD)

Investigating Endangered Language Contact for Awakateko and K'iche', two Mayan languages (NSF grant), Maria Polinsky (UMD)

Burukina, Irina, & Filiberto P. Majzul. 2018. Reflexive functional head, verbal and nominal predicates. Paper presented at the 36th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics, UCLA, April 2018.

Pérez Pérez E., Mendoza Solís, J., Solís, M. V., Mendoza Méndez, R.E., Simón R.P. M, Santiz, L.M. R., Us Pu, A., Sis Iboy, M. J., Polinsky, M., Pedro Mateo Pedro, P. 2018. Palatalización en K’ichee’ y palatales en Awakateko. Paper presented at the Fifth International Conference “Form and Analysis in Mayan Linguistics” (FAMLi-5), Antigua, August 2018.