JOHN MONTGOMERY – DICTIONARY OF MAYA HIEROGLYPHS – 2002-2006
This is a dictionary and you
cannot expect more than it proposes. It is organized in alphabetical order but
based on the phonetic transcriptions of the glyphs. Note they use two phonetic
transcriptions: Ch’olan and Yucatec.
The glottalized consonants
(consonants followed by a glottal stop marked in the transcription with an
apostrophe) follow the non-glottalized consonants in the alphabetical order. Thus
CH’ comes after CH.
But the great advantage is that
you can really understand the composition of the glyphs thanks to the
transcriptions first but also because you will find the various components in
the dictionary as such. The writing system is thus a composite writing system
since the glyphs are composed of various glyphs associated to build new words. We are dealing here with
the morphology of the compound words and many Mayan words are compounds.
It also gives you the various
categories and declension or conjugation elements of the words. Hence you have
nouns, verbs, adjectives. Nominal phrases are often treated as one glyph
composed of various elements showing that the syntax of the nominal phrase is
treated as if it were morphology. And we have the same thing for verbal
phrases. That seems to show this language is developing on the basis of the
second articulation of human language, though it seems to be developing the
first steps towards the realization of the third articulation which implies
declensions and later prepositions to express nominal cases, and conjugations
for the verbs.
To specify that language more we
will enter the details of the description of its syntax. Since it is a Native
American language we know today it comes from Siberia
where two vast families of languages, and ethnic groups, cohabited. DNA has
confirmed these dual origins. On one hand the agglutinative languages of the
Turkic family mostly settled in Central Asia, South West Siberia (Urals for
example), Asia Minor and the whole of Europe
before the last ice age up to the arrival of Indo-Europeans in Europe
a few thousand years after the ice age. On the
other hand the Sino-Tibetan family us composed of isolating languages.
Most of Native American languages
are thus mapped on one pattern or the other. Further studies have to be made to
check if the two affiliations are strictly respected or if some languages
actually merged the characteristics of both families. The Turkic family is
third articulation, whereas the Sino-Tibetan family is second articulation.
I will then have to come back to
the subject after more studies.
This dictionary has many indices
at the end and these indices transform the dictionary into a multilingual and a
practical tool. Three languages are concerned first with the Mayan Index, the
English Index and the Spanish Index. Then you have the Index of Visual Elements
and then a collection of Subject Indices: Numbers, Days, Months, Long Count,
Phonetic signs, Verbs/Verbal Phrases, pronouns, adjectives. T-numbers.
Per se this dictionary cannot
teach you the language, but it is an indispensible tool for learning that
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU