Victoria Bricker’s painstaking work is based on almost one thousand provenienced notarial documents and letters written by native speakers of Yucatec Maya from the colonial times to the modern day. Because the documents are dated and also specify the town where they were written, Bricker was able to determine when and where grammatical changes first appeared in the language and the trajectory of their movement across the Yucatan peninsula. This exemplary grammar of Yucatec Maya includes examples and careful explanations of the phonological, morphological, and syntactic structures of the language. Bricker’s research is distinguished in its treatment of seemingly aberrant spellings of Maya words as clues to the way they were actually pronounced at different times in the past. Her chapters include topics seldom covered, such as deictic particles, affects, and reduplication. Of special interest is a poetic form of reduplication composed of couplets (or triplets) found in documents from each of the centuries, indicating the continuity of this genre from the Colonial to the Modern version of this language.
Victoria R. Bricker is Professor Emerita of Anthropology at Tulane University, Courtesy Professor of Anthropology at the University of Florida, and Research Associate at the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida.
Praise and Reviews:
“Bricker’s work constitutes a milestone not only for the historical study of the indigenous languages of the Americas, but also for the historical study of languages in general, and will no doubt serve as a major case study in such an endeavor for years to come.”
—David Mora Marín, associate professor in linguistics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
“This book will become a go-to source for anyone working in Mayan epigraphy, colonial ethnohistory, or the modern language. There is nothing like it in the literature. Even though many scholars have studied either the modern or the colonial language and a couple have studied both, Bricker shows that by playing the two stages of language against one another, we learn important new information about both, shedding light on facts at every level of grammar.”
—William F. Hanks, professor of anthropology, Berkeley Distinguished Chair in Linguistic Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley