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Curr Anthropol. 2000 Jun;41(3):321-356.

The Language of Classic Maya Inscriptions1.


Recent decipherments of Classic Maya hieroglyphs (ca. a.d. 250 to 850) reveal phonological and morphological patterns that, through epigraphic and historical analyses, isolate a single, coherent prestige language with unique and widespread features in script. We term this language "Classic Ch'olti'an" and present the evidence for its explicable historical configuration and ancestral affiliation with Eastern Ch'olan languages (Ch'olti' and its still-viable descendant, Ch'orti'). We conclude by exploring the possibility that Ch'olti'an was a prestige language that was shared by elites, literati, and priests and had a profound effect on personal and group status in ancient Maya kingdoms.

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