My experience in New Orleans, USA

My trip to New Orleans was one of the best experiences I have ever had, even though at the beginning I was a bit scared since I was so far away and because it was a very different world than the one I am used to. Of course, I was also scared because of our project “Dimensions of definiteness in Ch’ol: A dialectal comparison, because I knew that there would be many linguists presenting their work at this conference.

After arriving to the place of the conference, I was very excited, there were many linguists and I heard and saw their presentations. That motivated me to continue learning about this discipline. The day of my presentation, I was very nervous, I just wanted everything to go well, and it did. I thank the SSILA committee very much for letting me present my talk in Ch’ol with slides in English. Many other well-known linguists like Dr. Jessica Coon, Juan Jesús Vázquez Álvarez and others were in the room listening to our presentation. It is also important to say that there had never before been a presentation in an indigenous language at these meetings. The last day of the presentations, various award were given out. One award was given to Jessica Coon and Juan Jesús for the SSILA archiving award for their archive of Ch’ol data at AILLA of transcriptions and audio in Ch’ol. I also received a travel award.

I also had fun in New Orleans and the people that I met were very nice to me. Especially Mary, who took us to meet her family in another city, it was a wonderful trip. It was so nice to be with her family. They are such warm people and I am very happy to have met them. Of course, I would like to thank Carol-Rose for involving me in her research and Jessica Coon for always supporting me. I feel very fortunate to be able to count on them. Thanks to them I have learned a lot!

I feel very proud of my language Ch’ol, I would like that people work on it more, not just keep it for ourselves, it is important to share it and work a lot with it.

-Morelia Vázquez Martínez

Linguistic terms translated into Ch’ol

For our presentation for SSILA, it was a bit complicated to translate linguistic terms into Ch’ol, so for us it was a challenge to find the right words to use to for various terms in order to translate what we wanted to say properly.

I really liked this part because I could learn more about my native language and I felt proud to be able to understand it this way. In the future, I would like to continue to study it to gain a more profound knowledge of my language Ch’ol.

All this motivates me to continue learning and studying this wonderful discipline: linguistics.

  • Ña’alty’añ > Grammar
  • Yochibty’añ > Introduction
  • Päsoñel > Presentation
  • K’aba’äl > Noun
  • Yilal > Adjetive
  • Cha’leyaj > Verb
  • K’axcha’leyaj > Transitive verb
  • Machbä k’axcha’leyaj > Intransitive verb
  • Pi’leyaj > Adverb
  • Yañälbä ty’añ > Dialectal variant
  • Pästyäl > Determiner
  • Käñbilbä ty’añ > Definiteness
  • Käñälbä > Definite
  • Machbä kañäl > Indefinite
  • Ty’añ ñaxañ albilixbä > Anaphoricity
  • Juñsujmach käñälbä ty’añ > Unique definite
  • Ajcha’leyaj > Subject
  • Ajcha’leñtyel > Object
  • Icha’añtyej > Possessive
  • Ty’añ mubä ichäkä ajlel > Generic referent
  • Ajyomty’añ > Linguist
  • Yomty’añ > Linguistics

-Morelia Vázquez Martínez

Juan Jesús, Morelia and Carol-Rose on “La voz de nuestras raíces”

On June 13th, 2019, Dr. Juan Jesús Vázquez Álvarez (CIMSUR) and Carol-Rose Little (Cornell) were invited to appear on the Canal 10 Chiapas show “La voz de nuestras raíces” [the voice of our roots], hosted by Freddy López Vázquez (advisor to the Minister of Sustainable Development of Indigenous Peoples in Chiapas). There, Juan Jesús talked about how he became a linguist and the importance of continuing to speak and write in Ch’ol. Carol-Rose talked about her work with the Ch’ol language and how she became involved with the Ch’ol communities in Chiapas.


Juan Jesús Vázquez Álvarez, Freddy Vázquez López, Carol-Rose Little, Miguel “Sebsor” (Tseltal rapper)

On July 18th, 2019, Morelia Vázquez Martínez was also an honorary guest on “La voz de nuestras raíces”. During her interview she discussed her work on linguistic projects, starting in 2015. When asked about advice for preserving Ch’ol, she emphasized the importance of teaching Ch’ol speakers how to write in their language.


Morelia Vázquez Martínez and Freddy López Vázquez during the taping of “La voz de nuestras raíces”

“La voz de nuestras raíces” is a TV program on Canal 10 Chiapas which airs in various languages of Chiapas. The Ch’ol version airs live every Thursday at 3pm.

Ch’ol corpus now available on AILLA

The Ch’ol language corpus created as part of the National Geographic-funded project in 2018 is now available online at the Archive of Indigenous Languages of Latin America (AILLA). The collection can be viewed here:

The corpus contains nearly 40 hours of audio recordings, in addition to videos, transcriptions, translations, and photos, and was created with the help of a team of Ch’ol-speaking students, led by project directors Juan Jesús Vázquez Álvarez and Jessica Coon, with local coordinators Nicolás Arcos López and Bernabé Vázquez Sánchez.

Workshops in Tumbalá and San Miguel

In June and July, we organized two workshops, one in Tumbalá and the other in San Miguel. In Tumbalá, the workshop was on the language and culture of the Mayan people, with a special focus on Ch’ol (June 20th). The organizers were Carol-Rose Little (Cornell University), Esteban Mirón (Berkeley) Morelia Vázquez Martínez (ITSM), and Silvestre Gómez Jiménez (CELALI). The workshop took place in the Tumbalá cultural center, whose director is Juana Karen Peñate Montejo. Members of the cultural center, including students and teachers, attended the workshop. Esteban talked about the archaeology of the Maya people of Palenque. Carol-Rose and Morelia presented on what linguists do as well as the importance of preserving languages. Silvestre ended with some advice on how to continue preserving the Ch’ol language. At the end of the workshop, participants ate tamales prepared locally and listened to some marimba music. This workshop was possible thanks to funding from Engaged Cornell and Berkeley.

On July 4th and July 5th, Morelia and Carol-Rose gave two Ch’ol writing workshops in the local secondary school in San Miguel. This workshop was attended by 120 students. On the first day, they went over the Ch’ol alphabet, paying special attention to how to write glottalized consonants (C’) and the sixth vowel in Ch’ol (ä). On the second day, students had a spelling quiz and then wrote down their own stories about daily life, which they then shared with the class. This workshop was possible thanks to funding from Engaged Cornell.

ELAN workshop in CELALI

On January 7th, 2019, Morelia Vázquez Martínez led a workshop on how to use ELAN, a transcription program for linguists. Participants were CELALI employees who work with various languages of Chiapas. This program helps users transcribe and translate audio and video. This workshop was funded through an Engaged Opportunity grant from Engaged Cornell.

Morelia Vazquez Martinez

Morelia showing participants how to use ELAN

Me, José Armando

Hey there! My name’s José Armando. I grew up in Tijuana, Baja California. I am about to start graduate school at the University of California, San Diego. I just finished my undergraduate degree at Cornell University, majoring in linguistics and anthropology. It was far from where I’m from and quite cold! In any case, I will now start my PhD program in linguistics in San Diego – much closer to my family in Tijuana.


Me in San Miguel. I have to climb quite some stones to get to where the house is.

I first visited San Miguel and El Campanario, Chiapas in January 2018 to learn Ch’ol. I was tagging along with my mentor Carol-Rose Little. It was amazing! I thank wholeheartedly Morelia Vázquez Martínez, Nicolás Arcos Lopez, and their families for everything they have done. I visited them again this past August on the way to a conference in Guatemala called FAMLi5. I cannot wait to go visit them again.

I wish to continue to study Ch’ol because there is a lot in the language that I don’t know. It is a beautiful language. I also study Ja’a Kumiai, another native language spoken in Baja California, Mexico. My grandparents spoke Otomí, so the native languages of Mexico are dear to my heart.


Inside the kitchen in a house in San Miguel. Gotta love beans and eggs! They’re healthy, too!

Workshop: Lakty’añ ch’ol en la era de la tecnología

On August 3rd, 2018, bilingual Ch’ol-Spanish students and teachers from UNICH met at the Casa de la Cultura, Salto de Agua, Chiapas for a workshop on tools for documenting and preserving Ch’ol. Here is a video in Ch’ol with clips from the workshop.

This workshop was organized by Carol-Rose Little (Cornell University) and Silvestre Gómez Jiménez (CELALI). Funding thanks to Engaged Cornell. The invited speakers were Nicolás Arcos López (UIET) and Morelia Vázquez Martínez (ITSM).