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Don’t let the lingua franca status of Spanish in most Central American countries fool you—an abundance of indigenous languages are still spoken by millions in the region. Guatemala accounts for a large number of indigenous language speakers, since the country encourages the teaching and learning of its 21 Mayan languages through the Academia de Lenguas Mayas de Guatemala. Notably, the percentage of people in Guatemala who speak an indigenous language as a native language is close to half, by far the highest in Central America. One of these languages is Jakaltek, also called Popti’.


Even though many of the ethnic Jakaltek people still speak their ancestral language, Jakaltek, it’s classified as an endangered language. That’s because Spanish is the most dominant and prestigious language in Guatemala and is needed to communicate with people from other areas of the nation. What follows, of course, is that the majority of translation firms refuse to work with Jakaltek, since it’s too small to derive a large profit. But is profit really everything? At TranslationServices.com, we also place value on the cultural, historical, and linguistic significance of Jakaltek—and that’s why we’re proud to have a Jakaltek translation team.


Free quotes for our Jakaltek translation services are available to anyone who requests them.


Why is Jakaltek such a special language?

Jakaltek is a Mayan language, hailing from the language family’s Qʼanjobalan branch, and is spoken by roughly 33,000 people in Guatemala’s department of Huehuetenango, as well as another 500 or so in Mexico’s Chiapas state. Jakaltek is grammatically complex, featuring agglutinativity (common to many indigenous languages of the Americas) and ergative–absolutive alignment (exhibited by all Mayan languages). The ergativity system in Jakaltek shares an ergative marker for the subject of transitive sentences and the possessor of nouns, while the absolutive marker is shared between the object of transitive sentences and the subject of intransitive sentences.


Jakaltek also has an extensive system of noun classifiers, which categorizes nouns depending on their material (e.g., animal, plant, water). Separate classifiers even exist for human males and females, allowing Jakaltek speakers to mark natural gender on human nouns. These classifiers function as articles and pronouns and can even distinguish between the reflexive possessive (e.g., xil naj Pel smam “Peter saw his (own) father”) and the fourth person (e.g., xil naj Pel smam naj “Peter saw his (someone else’s) father”).


Is Jakaltek a difficult language? Certainly—but not for our Jakaltek translators, who are native speakers passionate about translating their language.


Both directions: translating to and from Jakaltek

We aim to make our Jakaltek translation services as accessible and flexible as possible, which includes offering translation services both into and out of Jakaltek. Our translators love working with historians, government agencies, and Jakaltek speakers to translate Jakaltek-language content like historical documents, literature, and more, which can then be published abroad and bring more awareness of the Jakaltek people. Equally, our translators are passionate about partnering with researchers, language activists, and content creators to translate academic works, questionnaires, educational material, and entertainment content like books, apps, and games into Jakaltek. Producing more content in Jakaltek gives the language more opportunity to thrive, inspires more pride in the language, and helps second-language speakers learn Jakaltek.


Ready for Jakaltek translation services? Just message us today!


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