Those who aren’t well acquainted with the linguistic landscape of Mexico may believe the Mayan languages to be a relic of the past, of a proud civilization long ago snuffed out by European colonizers. It’s true that the arrival of Europeans devastated the indigenous civilizations in Central America, but many of these indigenous ethnolinguistic groups still thrive in Mexico today, including multiple subgroups of Mayan peoples. Today, there live around 6 million native speakers of Mayan languages, centered around southern Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize. Of the 30-odd Mayan languages still spoken today, Tzotzil is the sixth-biggest.
Tzotzil boasts roughly 550,000 native speakers, making it one of the most prominent languages in the Mayan family. It’s not the biggest—that honor goes to K’iche’, with Yucatec Maya coming in second. But Tzotzil enjoys vigorous use in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, where it’s used alongside its close cousin Tzeltal. The language is even prominent enough to be taught at some schools in Central Chiapas. Unfortunately, however, Tzotzil’s status is threatened by the ubiquity and prestige of Spanish, with most Tzotzil speakers bilingual in Spanish. That means there aren’t many translation agencies that will translate Tzotzil—aside from TranslationServices.com, of course.
We’re proud to present our Tzotzil translation team, and we work to translate all sorts of documents to and from Tzotzil. Want to see a free quote? Just ask!
Let’s take a closer look at Tzotzil.
Tzotzil speakers generally live in Mexico’s southern Chiapas State, where a significant portion of the population is indigenous. With Tzotzil speakers spread out across the state, the language is divided into six main dialects, with varying levels of mutual intelligibility: Chamula, Zinacantán, San Andrés Larráinzar, Huixtán, Chenalhó, and Venustiano Carranza. Belonging to the Mayan language family, Tzotzil bears similarities to Tzeltal and Ch’ol, two other major indigenous languages in Chiapas.
Tzotzil adopts an unusual default word order of verb-object-subject, which is found in only 3% of languages globally, though it’s quite common among Mayan languages. Another notable feature distinguishing Tzotzil from other world languages but not its Mayan relatives is its ergative alignment, which uses the same set of affixes to mark the subject of an intransitive verb and the object of a transitive verb, with a different set for the subject of a transitive verb. You can think of this as a focus on the noun being changed by the action rather than on the noun performing the action, like in English.
Making the most of Tzotzil translation with our professional team
With its rare word order and ergative alignment, Tzotzil is a remarkably difficult language for English speakers to grasp well. But with our Tzotzil translation team, you don’t need to learn this tricky language to communicate with locals—our team has you covered. Having grown up all over Chiapas, our translators represent all six major Tzotzil dialects, which enables us to provide reliable translation services tailored to your specific needs. Whether you need a text translated from Zinacantán Tzotzil to English or from English to Chamula Tzotzil, just turn to us.
Tzotzil translation services are useful for a wide range of clients from all walks of life. Business leaders can take advantage of our services to expand their presence in Chiapas, connecting with local Tzotzil people on a deeper level. Educators in the Tzotzil-speaking world can work with our translators to convert English-language pedagogical materials into Tzotzil, helping native-speaking children access a more robust education in their mother tongue. Creators from around the world can translate their books, poems, apps, games, websites, and more into Tzotzil to not only tap into an oft-overlooked population but also add more legitimacy to this proud Mayan language, encouraging more use and learning of the language. And, of course, native Tzotzil speakers can count on us to spread their messages to the rest of the world, whether that’s marketing material for your business or traditional Tzotzil stories you want the world to know.
Great Tzotzil translation starts here. Send us a message to set the process in motion!