Tojolabʼal language

Tojolabal is a Mayan language spoken in Chiapas, Mexico. It is related to the Chuj language spoken in Guatemala. Tojolabal is spoken especially in the departments of the Chiapanecan Colonia of Las Margaritas by about 20,000 people.

Native toMexico
RegionSoutheast Chiapas
Native speakers
51,733 (2010 census)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3toj

The name Tojolabal derives from the phrase [tohol aˈbal], meaning "right language". Nineteenth-century documents sometimes refer to the language and its speakers as "Chaneabal" (meaning "four languages", possibly a reference to the four Mayan languages -- Tzotzil, Tzeltal, Tojolabal, and Chuj—spoken in the Chiapas highlands and nearby lowlands along the Guatemala border).

Anthropologist Carlos Lenkersdorf has claimed several linguistic and cultural features of the Tojolabal, primarily the language's ergativity, show that they do not give cognitive weight to the distinctions subject/object, active/passive. This he interprets as being evidence in favor of the controversial Sapir-Worf hypothesis.

Tojolabʼal-language programming is carried by the CDI's radio station XEVFS, broadcasting from Las Margaritas.


  1. INALI (2012) México: Lenguas indígenas nacionales
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Tojolabal". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  • Lenkersdorf, Carlos (1996). Los hombres verdaderos. Voces y testimonios tojolabales. Lengua y sociedad, naturaleza cite y cultura, artes y comunidad cósmica. Mexico City: Siglo XXI. ISBN 968-23-1998-6.

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