Long ago, there was a magnificent civilization, where nature was part of the background, beauty, and art everywhere; where a unique and rich language was spoken. We are talking about the Maya culture. Some Mayan words and phrases are beautiful and have a unique ability to convey peace.
Suppose you go to the Yucatan Peninsula and want a great conversation with a Mayan to discover more about their fascinating history, in that case, you should learn some phrases in their indigenous tongue. Mayan words and phrases such as Ma’lob chi’inil K’iin (good morning), Tak saamal (see you tomorrow), K’a’ ak’ate (goodbye), Tu’ux ka bin? (where are you going?), or Tux a kaajal? (where are you from?) are very useful to learn. You have a great opportunity to learn one of the languages that live in the hearts of many descendants of this great culture. It is an important cultural legacy full of history that dates back more than 5,000 years and still continues to this day.
Many experts in linguistics from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) consider the Mayan language as one of the most beautiful languages that exists. The Mayan language is an integral part of the commercial, cultural, and social life of the Yucatan Peninsula since more than one million people speak Mayan. It is the second most widely spoken native language, after Nahuatl.
Mayan Words and Phrases
Here’s your guide to having a conversation with this amazing culture. Before you start, here are some tips:
“A” is pronounced like “a” in father
“E” is pronounced like “ay” in day
“I” is pronounced like “ee” in meet
“O” is pronounced like “o” in zone
“U” is pronounced like “oo” in boot
“AY” is pronounced like “eye”
“X” sounds like /sh/ except when at the beginning of words, then it sounds like “ish”
“J” ‘sounds like the ‘h’ in English
When there is an apostrophe between two vowels like “tu’ux”, this is a Mayan long vowel where you say the same sound for twice the normal duration.
Now, let’s get started.
Welcome – Kíimak’ oolal
Hello (General greeting) – Ba’ax ka wa’alik?
How are you? – Bix yanikech?
Reply to ‘How are you?‘ – Ma’alob. Kux tech? / Hach ma’aloob’. Kux tech?
What’s your name? – Bix a k’ a’aba’?
My name is… – Eeen kaah-bah eh…
Where are you from? – Tux a kaajal?
I’m from… – In kajalé…
Pleased to meet you – Jach ki’imak in wóol in wilikech
Good morning (Morning greeting) – Ma’lob Ja’atskab K’iin
Good afternoon (Afternoon greeting) – Ma’lob chi’inil K’iin
Good evening (Evening greeting) – Ma’lob ak’ab
Goodbye – K’a’ak’ate
See you tomorrow – Taak saama
See you later – Taak ulak k’iin
Good luck! – Ka xi’ik teech utsil
Have a nice day – Ka manseché ma’lob kiin / Ka’ajxi’ikte’ex utsil / Ka’aj xi’iktech utsil
Let’s go – Ko’ox — sounds like “koh-osh”
Bon appetit / Have a nice meal – Ku méejtech uutsil
Bon voyage / Have a good journey – Xíiktech uutsil
I understand – Tene Tin na’atik
I don’t understand – Má tin naátik
I don’t know – Má in woojel
Please speak more slowly – Je’ u beytal a táan chambel
Please say that again – Ka a’alé
Please write it down – Je’u beytal a tsiib
Do you speak English? – Teeche’ a tsiikbal inglés?
Do you speak Yucatec Maya? – Teeche’ a tsiikbal maaya?
Yes, a little (reply to ‘Do you speak …?’) – Chen jumpit
How do you say… in Yucatec Maya? – Bix u yaálal ich maaya táan
Excuse me – Pa’atiki’
How much is this? – Bahúux? Bahúux leti’?
Sorry – Ma’taali’teeni’
Please – Meent’ uts
Thank you – Dios bo’otik
Reply to thank you – Mixba’al.
Where’s the bathroom? – Tu’ux yan u kuuchi T’uuchtaj
This gentleman/lady will pay for everything – Le ma’ak yan u bootik tulaka
Would you like to dance with me? – Co’ox óok’ ot
I miss you – Ma’ach in túukulkech
I love you – In k’áatech
Go away! – Xe!
Leave me alone! – P’atéen tíin juunaj!
Help! – Áantení!
Fire! – K’a’ajale’!
Call the police! – T’aan le kaanano’!
Christmas greetings – Ki’imak Navidad yéetel ki’imak ja’aba’ túumben
Easter greetings – Ki’imak Pascua!
One language is never enough! – Jun t’aan ma’u tsook t’aano’obi!
I am hot – Tene K’ilkaben
Are you hot? – K’ilkabech?
I am cold – Tene ke’elen
Are you cold? Ke’elech?
I am hungry – Wi’ijen
Are you hungry? – Wi’ijech?
What would you like to eat? – Ba’ax tak a jantik?
I want to eat… – Tak in jana…
Where are you from? – Tu’ux a kajal?
I am from… – In kajalé…
Take care of yourself – Kanantabáa
Please wait for me – Pa’atení
How was your day? – Bix uch a maansik le ki’ina?
How do you feel? – Bix a u’uykabáa?
Where were you born? – Too oosh seehech
Where do you work? – Keen may-yah ti Toe
Take a walk through the city, you will find that many people speak Mayan every day. You will be able to hear them in the streets, at the ruins, and at the markets, as well as talking phrases combined with Spanish.
It is important that if you are going to coexist with the Mayan communities, you learn a little of the language to communicate better. With a bit of practice, you will go a long way, and you will be surprised how many people start with short Mayan words and learn to have a complete conversation in Mayan.
The language is not difficult to learn. The Mayan alphabet has 24 letters, but it requires attention, perseverance, and patience. Learning these Mayan words will give you a better understanding of this unique culture, and the world takes on new meaning when presented in Mayan.
Learn these phrases well, and you can have a fluent and phenomenal conversation!