Category Archives: about the language

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:

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.

Sounds in Ch’ol

  • “(when he gets hurt) a dog goes ayay”                                 Ay’ayña jiñi ts’i’
  • “people’s walking goes boxbox”                                            Boxboxña ixämbal lakpi’ilob
  • “(when she gets grabbed) the hen cries ch’ech’e”               Ch’ech’eña yuk’el xña’ muty’
  • “(when it turns on) the car goes ch’erch’er”                          Ch’erch’erña jiñi karu
  • “(with the chirp of the crickets) the night goes ch’irch’ir”   Ch’irch’irña jiñi ak’lel
  • “the rain falls ch’orch’or”                                                          Ch’orch’orña mi yajle ja’al
  • “(when it gets hit), the window goes chek’chek’”                  Chek’chek’ña imajk otyoty’
  • “the chicks go chi’chi’”                                                             Chi’chi’ña almuty’
  • “the ducks go  josjos”                                                               Josjosña jiñi pech
  • “the flying of the bird goes lesles”                                         Leslesña iwejlel muty’
  • “the cow goes mo’mo’”                                                            Mo’mo’ña wakax
  • “the sick person cries sik’sik’”                                                 Sik’sik’ña jiñi xsijmal
  • “the cicadas go ts’irts’ir”                                                          Ts’irts’irña jiñi jichityin
  • “the old radio goes ts’orts’or”                                                 Ts’orts’orña ñoxi radio
  • “the baby goes we’we’”                                                            We’we’ña aläl
  • “the dog goes wojwoj”                                                            Wojwojña jiñi ts’i’

Counting in Chol

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