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Poqomam is a Mayan language, closely related to Poqomchi’. It is spoken by 50,000 or so people in several small pockets in Guatemala, the largest of which is in Jalapa department.[5]

Native to Guatemala
Region Alta Verapaz
Ethnicity Poqomam
Native speakers
9,548 [1] (2001)[2]
  • Core Mayan
    • Quichean–Mamean
      • Greater Quichean
        • Pocom
          • Poqomam
Official status
Recognised minority
language in
Regulated by Academia de Lenguas Mayas de Guatemala (ALMG)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 poc
Glottolog poqo1253[4]



Poqomam is spoken in the following municipalities of Escuintla, Jalapa, and Guatemala departments (Variación Dialectal en Poqom, 2000).

Linguistic FormatEdit

In the journal Natural Language & Linguistic Theory[6] it is noted that if subjects are realized as negative indefinite pronouns, they may also trigger agent focus. The Mayan languages differ with respect to the degree of how obligation for agent focus. In this case Poqomam's agent focus is optional in all relevant contexts.

  • An Example of Negative Indefinite Pronouns:
    • qu ham' wach toʔ-w-i r-eh
    • nobody help-AF-ITR 3. E-DAT
    • Nobody helped him


These are every day greetings from Poqomam, which is one of the Mayan languages of Guatemala. The translations are provided by the International Journal of American Linguistics:[7]

  • Hello - Nqak'ul ta awach
  • Good Morning - Saq'wa
  • Good Afternoon - Sanaq'iij
  • Good Night - Qawaq'aab'
  • How are you? - Qanke jat wilkaat
  • How did you wake up? - Qanke xtisaq'wa
  • Thank you - Tiyoox tii
  • Bye - Xah'oo

Language RevitalizationEdit

According to American Anthropologist,[8] the revitalization of Mayan languages in Guatemala has increased in importance. In the 1996 Peace Accords the idea of officializing or co-officializing mayan languages was introduced. Unfortunately in the 1999 referendum of the constitutional changes it was turned down. In May 2003, the Guatemala congress passed the "Law of National Languages" that, while it states that Spanish is the official language of Guatemala, the Law recognizes that indigenous languages are essential parts of the national identity which must be promoted. This is a considerable change from the Guatemalan Constitution, which only recognizes indigenous languages as a part of the "national patrimony."

The Mayans have taken a number of actions that are intended, in part, to address the problem of language status and language shift:

  • 1 - The establishment of the Academia de Lenguas Mayas de Guatemala is an autonomous state institution directed by Mayas.
  • 2 - The Academia's establishment of linguistic communities corresponds to the 21 Guatemalan Mayan languages.
  • 3 - The finding of several NGOs will be devoted to linguistic research by Mayas.
  • 4 - There will be an establishment of at least one foundation that addresses the community for language promotion.
  • 5 - There will be an increment of numbers of Mayas who are involved in the Ministry of Education bilingual education programs.
  • 6 - There will be an establishment of private "Maya schools" that will be intended to deliver appropriate education for Maya children.
  • 7 - There will be an organization of nongovernmental associations to support the Maya schools.
  • 8 - There will be an establishment of several Maya presses that promote publication in and about Mayan languages as well as other issues of concern.


  1. ^ Endangered Languages Project.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ Poqomam at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  3. ^ Congreso de la República de Guatemala. "Decreto Número 19-2003. Ley de Idiomas Nacionales". Retrieved 2009-06-22. 
  4. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Poqomam". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  5. ^ The official 2002 Guatemala census mentions a lower figure of 11,273 Poqomam speakers. See "XI Censo Nacional de Población y VI de Habitación (Censo 2002) - Idioma o lengua en que aprendió a hablar". Instituto Nacional de Estadística. 2002. Retrieved 2008-05-27. 
  6. ^ Stiebels, B (May 2006). "Agent Focus in Mayan Languages". Natural Language & Linguistic Theory. 24 (2): 501–570. doi:10.1007/s11049-005-0539-9. JSTOR 27642832. 
  7. ^ Barret, R (April 2005). "RUKORB'AAL POQOM Q'ORB'AL: GRAMÁTICA POQOM (POQOMAM)/RUKEEMIIK JA TZ'UTUJIIL CHII': GRAMÁTICA TZ'UTUJIIL/RUKEMIK RI KAQCHIKEL CHI': GRAMÁTICA KAQCHIKEL". International Journal of American Linguistics. 71 (2): 215–221. doi:10.1086/491625. 
  8. ^ England, Nora (December 2003). "Mayan Language Revival and Revitalization Politics: Linguists and Linguistic Ideologies". American Anthropologist. 105 (4): 733–743. doi:10.1525/aa.2003.105.4.733. JSTOR 3567138. 

External linksEdit