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Translating the Mam Language: We Do So Proudly



Most people, if asked to name a language spoken in Guatemala, would immediately jump to Spanish. If they were asked to name another one, most probably couldn’t. But outsiders’ perceptions don’t match reality. The truth is that 23 additional languages are spoken indigenously in the Central American country, most of them Mayan languages. It’s estimated that between 40 and 60% of Guatemalans speak an indigenous language as their mother tongue. Mam, with over 600,000 speakers, is one of the largest.


Unfortunately, even though Mam is one of Guatemala’s largest indigenous languages, it’s nonetheless endangered—the result of Spanish’s ubiquity and prestige coupled with decades of repression. Of course, that doesn’t make Mam any less valuable—but countless translation agencies seem to think so, since they don’t offer Mam translation services. That’s where TranslationServices.com comes in. Our dedication to endangered languages like Mam is unparalleled—we proudly present our Mam translators, who work with translation projects both to and from Mam.


If you want Mam translation services, send us a message anytime and ask about a free quote.


Exploring what makes Mam unique

According to the Guatemalan and Mexican censuses, there are 610,000 speakers of Mam—600,000 spread across the Guatemalan departments of Quetzaltenango, Huehuetenango, San Marcos, and Retalhuleu, with an additional 10,000 in the Mexican state of Chiapas. Additional Mam-speaking communities can be found in Oakland, California, and Washington, D.C. It is closely related to Tektitek, spoken in Huehuetenango.


Mam, as a Mayan language, is grammatically complicated, employing an ergative–absolutive alignment, which marks intransitive subjects identically to transitive objects. These markers are applied obligatorily to Mam verbs, identifying both the subject and object and eliminating the need for standalone pronouns. In fact, Mam is unique in that it doesn’t even have independent pronouns—all pronouns in Mam are bound morphemes, meaning that they can only exist in relation to other words, similarly to how “is” is meaningless in English without context. Another interesting feature of Mam is its distinction between alienable and inalienable possession—nouns like kya’j (sky) and che’w (star) can never be possessed, while nouns like tlok’ (its root) and tb’aq (its seed) always appear in the possessed form.


Mam contains all sorts of features incomprehensive to the average English speaker—but don’t worry. Our Mam translators are native speakers with a passion for translating their tricky language.


To and from Mam: we can do whichever direction you prefer!

Our Mam translation services go two ways: from Mam to English and from English to Mam. This level of flexibility allows us to cater to the needs of a diverse clientele, supporting the Mam community both by spreading their ideas and culture abroad and by increasing the amount of material available in the Mam language. More concretely, we can translate old documents or literature from Mam to English, putting this rich Mesoamerican culture on display. At the same time, we can translate academic materials, business content, and literary works (including poetry, books, games, websites, apps, and more) from English to Mam, helping foster literacy and pride in Mam and giving speakers more opportunities to use their language.


We accommodate all kinds of Mam translation needs—just tell us what you’re looking for in a message.


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Professional human translation for any language, any topic