Tektitek language

Classified under the Mamean branch family of languages, Tektitek (also known as Tectiteco, Teco, Teko, Kʼontiʼl, Qyool, among others)[3] is a Mayan language spoken by the Tektitan people of Huehuetenango, Guatemala. It is very closely related to the Mam language. A number of Tektitek speakers have settled in Mexico. Due to the close proximity of Huehuetenango to the Mexican border[4] the speakers of the language have appropriated aspects of Mexican Spanish into the language.[5] While 4,900 speakers were recorded in 2010 by Ethnologue,[3] Juventino de Jesus Perez Alonzo estimated that there were just 2,000 speakers of the language left at that time.[5] He noted however, that measures are being taken to teach the children in Huehuetenango the Tekitek language.[5] According to the Endangered Languages Project, the language is currently threatened.[6] Little is known about the culture, but there are resources that provide vocabulary as well as other educational tools.

Native toGuatemala, Mexico
RegionWestern Highlands
Native speakers
5,000 (2002)[1]
Official status
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3ttc


Little is known about Tektitan peoples and their cultures. Linguist, Perez Alonzo,[5] says much work is being done to improve this.[5] YouTube has a video about farming in the Teco lands,[7] as well as Tektitekan clay pots.[8] In the farming video, a speaker of Teco explains that the best time to sow corn is during full moons, because if sown afterwards, the corn is not as good, as it tends to break apart.[7] The speaker continues that the day after the harvest, families are invited to celebrate, a lamb is killed, and it is shared amongst everyone along with the corn.[7] They light fireworks and extend to each family five corn cobs each, and everyone goes on enjoying the celebration.[7] In the clay pots video, another native speaker, this one a woman, explains the process of clay pot making.[8]


As part of the effort to reestablish the Tektitek language, Ernesto Baltazar Gutierrez, a Guatemalan author, released a Tektiteko Grammar book in 2007[9] and in the same year, also collaborated with author, Erico Simon Morales, to release a Tektiteko bilingual dictionary that is used in schools in Guatemala.[10] Rutgers University is home to one of the copies of the vocabulary books. Some websites are also being changed towards helping individuals learn some Tektiteko vocabulary words and prayers, such as one ran by the Native Languages of the Americas Foundation.[11]


The table below provides a list of English words and their Tektitek counterparts, as found on the Native Languages of Americas page.[11] A detailed account of pronunciations are also found on this site.[12]

English Tectiteco
One Juun
Two Kaabʼee
Man Iichaan
Woman Xuuj
Sun Qʼiij
Moon Qyaaʼ


Bilabial Alveolar Postalveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Normal Palatalized
Plosive Normal p /p̪ʰ/ t /tʰ/ k /kʰ/ ky /kʰʲ/ q /qʰ/ ' /ʲʔ/
Ejective /tʼ/ /kʼ/ kyʼ/kʼʲ/
Implosive /ɓ/ /ʛ/
Nasal m /m/ n /n/ nh /ŋ/
Fricative w /v/ s /s/ xh /ɕ/ x /ʂ/ j /χ/
Affricate Normal tz /t͡sʰ/ ch /t͡ɕʰ/ tx /ʈ͡ʂʰ/
Ejective tzʼ /t͡sʼ/ chʼ /t͡ɕʼ/ txʼ /ʈ͡ʂʼ/
Flap r /ɾ/
Approximant w /ʋ/ l /l~ɺ/ y /j/

The coronal ejectives may be allophonically pre-voiced.

Other sources

Sources include Paul Stevenson's grammar and idioms book in 1986 and 1987,[13] and Terrence Kaufman's book on the language titled, "Teco - A New Mayan Language" written in 1969.[14] Margaret Wendell also wrote a book on the Alphabet system of Tektitek.[15]


  1. Tektitek at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Tektiteko". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. Simons, Gary F. "Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Twentieth Edition". Retrieved March 9, 2017.
  4. "Pins from infoplease.com on Pinterest". Pinterest. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  5. Sorosoro (May 5, 2010). "Presentation on Tektiteko by Linguist Juventino de Jesus Perez Alonzo". Youtube. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  6. "Did you know Teco is threatened?". Endangered Languages. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  7. SorosoroTV (2010-12-10), Corn land, retrieved 2017-05-01
  8. SorosoroTV (2011-02-01), Clay pots in Tectitan, retrieved 2017-05-01
  9. Baltazar Gutierrez, Ernesto (2007). Gramática pedagógica Tektiteka. Antigua, Guatemala: Cholsamaj Foundation. ISBN 9789992253465.
  10. Simon Morales, Erico; Baltazar Gutierrez, Ernesto (2007). Diccionario Bilingüe Tektiteko-Español. Antigua, Guatemala: Cholsamaj Foundation. ISBN 9789992253427.
  11. Foundation, Native Languages of the Americas (1998–2015). "Tectiteco Indian Language". Native Languages of the Americas. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  12. "Tectiteco Maya Pronunciation Guide, Alphabet and Phonology". www.native-languages.org. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  13. Stevenson, Paul (1986). A Preliminary Grammar of the Tectitec (Mayan) Language. North America: MA, University of Texas at Arlington. pp. 1–214.
  14. Kaufman, Terrence (1969). "Teco - A New Mayan Language". International Journal of American Linguistics. 35: 154–74. doi:10.1086/465050.
  15. Wendell, Margaret (1962). En Torno a un Programa de Alfabetización Bilingüe: Un Año en el Proyecto de Tactic. Guatemala Indígena.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.