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Awakatek language

Native toGuatemala
Native speakers
9,610 (2003 census)[1]
Official status
Recognised minority
language in
Regulated byAcademia de Lenguas Mayas de Guatemala
Language codes
ISO 639-3agu

Awakatek is a Mayan language spoken in Guatemala, primarily in Huehuetenango and around Aguacatán.[3][4] The language only has around 9000 speakers, and is considered vulnerable by UNESCO. In addition, the language in Mexico is critically endangered, with only 3 elderly speakers left in Champotón, Campeche as of 2000.[5][6]

Awakatek is closely related to Ixil and the two languages together form the sub-branch Ixilean, which together with the Mamean languages, Mam and Tektitek, form a sub-branch Greater-Mamean, which again, together with the Greater-Quichean languages, ten Mayan languages, including Kʼicheʼ, form the branch Quichean–Mamean.


The Awakatek people themselves refer to their language as qaʼyol, literally meaning 'our word'. They also call themselves qatanum, which means 'our people' and is distinct from the word Awakatec, which is used in Spanish in reference to the municipality of Aguacatán (which means place of abundant avocados and refers to agricultural production and not specifically to the indigenous people).[7][8][9]



Front Back
short long short long
Close i /i/ ii /iː/ u /u/ uu /uː/
Mid e /e/ ee /eː/ o /o/ oo /oː/
Open a /a/ aa /aː/


There are four diphthongs: ay /aj/, ey /ej/, oy /oj/, uy /uj/.


Bilabial Alveolar Postalveolar Retroflex Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
Normal Palatalized
Plosive Normal p /pʰ/ t /tʰ/ k /kʰ/ ky /kʰʲ/ q /qʰ/ ' /ʲʔ/
Ejective /pʼ/ /tʼ/ /kʼ/ kyʼ/kʼʲ/
Implosive /ɓ/ /ʛ/
Nasal m /m/ n /n/ nh /ŋ/
Fricative w /v~f/ s /s/ xh /ʃ/ x /ʂ/ j /χ/ h /ʜ/
Affricate Normal p /ɸʰ/ tz /t͡sʰ/ ch /t͡ʃʰ/ tx /ʈ͡ʂʰ/
Ejective tzʼ /t͡sʼ/ chʼ /t͡ʃʼ/ txʼ /ʈ͡ʂʼ/
Flap r /ɾ/
Approximant l /l~ɺ/ y /j/ w /ʍ/

The coronal ejectives may be allophonically pre-voiced.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Awakatek at Ethnologue (19th ed., 2016)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Aguacateco". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Cabral, Ernesto Díaz Couder (2001). "Culturas e interculturalidad en Guatemala". Archived from the original on 2010-02-15. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ Brintnall, Douglas E., 1946- (1979). Revolt against the dead : the modernization of a Mayan community in the highlands of Guatemala. New York: Gordon and Breach. ISBN 0677051700. OCLC 4638179.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ "UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in danger". Retrieved 2017-10-11.
  6. ^ Aridjis, H. (22 February 2009). "Homero aridjis / reír en 7 mil lenguas". Reforma: 14.
  7. ^ Meyer, Evan. "Evan Meyer served in Guatemala". Retrieved 27 June 2007.
  8. ^ "Comunidad Lingüística Awakateka" (PDF). Retrieved 17 February 2010.
  9. ^ Meyer, Evan. "CU Peace Corps volunteers offer vignettes from their lives abroad - Evan Meyer". Retrieved 27 June 2007.