Author Archives: Matilde Vázquez

Chol variants: Tila and Tumbalá

Our language has different variants, and depending on the place in which it is spoken it can be identified as the dialect of Tila or of Tumbalá. Some words are different, but they have the same meaning. Here are some examples:

Tila                                        Tumbalá              Meaning

Tyuñ                                     Xajlel                    Rock

Ch’ijch’um                         Ñi’uk’                   chayote

Ch’ek’ajk                            Luty                       roasted corn

Yum                                      Tatuch                  grandfather

Luty                                      Loj                         twin

Mam                                    Buts                      grandchild

Chonkol                              Woli                      to be doing (progressive)

Majlel                                  Sam                       go

Yoke ja’as                           Ichija’as              banana

Chakal                                  Pits’il                     naked

K’uk’um                              Tsutsel                 feather

Tyejch                                  Kej                         round and flat (classifier of shapes)

Toñel                                   E’tyel                    work

Xä’bäl                                   Käkäw Sa’           chocolate pozol

Xajk’ul                                 Pats’                     bean tamale

Xäk’ä’                                   Bu’lewaj              bean tortilla

Sets’                                     Ch’ejew              clay plate

Xk’aläl                                  Xch’ok                  young woman

Bujk                                      P’o’                       clothing

Other words are not so different, but the pronunciation changes, for example

Momoñ                               Momoy            Hierba Santa

Pusk’al                                 Pusik’al             heart

Semety                               Semejty              comal

Yujmel                                 Yunjel                   unlce

Jomoch’                              Jomojch              Joloche

Mep’                                    Ñep’                     crab

Pejpem                             Pejpeñ                 butterfly

Ts’ijñ                                    Ts’ijm                   yuca

Je’el                                      Ja’el                      also

Ma’añ                                  Ma’añik               no, there aren’t

Ajñisañ                                Ajñesañ               chase it!

k’änjol                                 K’ajñol                  pillow

Xiye’                                     Xäye’                    eagle

A’bälel                                 Ak’lel                    night

Pijchik’                                 Pintsik’                 zanate

Che’jk’o’                             Ch’ejk’u’             woodpecker

The following audio was recorded by Silvestre Gómez Jiménez, a cultural promoter who worked in CELALI:

Ch’ol music

In some Chol communities in Tila, Chiapas, the traditional music known as Malintzin is still conserved. It can be heard in different religious festivals, for example during Christmas, New Years, and the Festivals of the Virgin of Guadaluple, the Señor de Tila, Santa Cruz, and many more. A get together happens in the houses of the mayordomos, and the music is there to lift the spirits of the visitors and of the celebrated saints. The musical fragment here belongs to the community of Nueva Esperanza, in the municipality of Tila, Chiapas.

The Ch’ol alphabet

The alphabet:

Our language Ch’ol is different from Spanish (and other languages). It is written differently and has its own special sounds. It has the following 29 letters:

The following are the sounds of the alphabet––listen:

This recording was made in the Centro Estatal de Lenguas, Arte y Literatura Indígenas (CELALI), located in San Cristóbal de Las Casas in 2009. The voice is of the Cultural Promotor, Silvestre Gómez Jiménez, originally from the community of Nuevo Limar, Tila.

Counting in Chol


The language Chol uses a vigesimal (base-20) counting system. Here are the numerals for 1–20:

Jun                 1                                 Junlujun       11

Cha’               2                                 Lajchän         12

Ux                   3                                 Uxlujun         13

Chän              4                                 Chänlujun    14

Jo’                   5                                 Jo’lujun         15

Wäk                6                                 Wäklujun      16

Wuk                7                                 Wuklujun      17

Waxäk           8                                 Waxäklujun  18

Bolon             9                                 Bolonlujum   19

Lujun             10                               Junk’al          20

In our language Chol, when we count things the form of the number must change depending on the form of the objects being counted, for example depending on whether they are round, long, standing; whether the thing being counted is an person or an animal, as in the following examples:

      a tree (standing) = juñtyejk tye’

         a woman (standing) = juñtyikil lakña’

         a dog (crouched) = juñkojty ts’i’

     a pineaplle (round) = juñpijty pajch’

    a tortilla = juñk’ej waj

     a plate (round) = juñwejch ch’ejew

  a bunch of bananas (hanging) = juñpajl ja’as


Mayordomos walking to the church.

Mayordomos (xch’ujeñalob) are men who are in charge of sponsoring the fiestas for our Father Jesús and our Mother the Virgin of Gudalupe, along with other Catholic saints worshipped in each community. Each mayordomo is in charge of one fiesta per year, and then is replaced by someone else, and so on it continues each year. Before, only elders were responsible for these positions (cargos), but now young people and women can also take part, in part because there are now fewer people willing to take on this responsibility.


Me, Matilde

Kik’oty kmajs

My name is Matilde Vázquez, I’m originally from the community of El Campanario, in the municipality of Tila. I studied social anthropology at the Universidad Autonoma of Chiapas. I live in San Cristobal de Las Casas. I have written a lot in our language Chol, and I’ve also done translations from Spanish to Chol during the time when I worked at CELALI.