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A Worldview in Words: Lexical Categories of the Mopan Maya

The Lexical Categories of the Mopan Maya will encompass a searchable multimedia archive of Mopan Maya texts, based on audio and video recordings of Mopan speech that Prof Danziger collected during field trips to Mopan territory. Mopan is the only surviving member of its branch of the Yucatecan subfamily, one of only two Mayan subfamilies that are directly associated with the famous Classic Maya of antiquity. It is an indigenous minority language of Central America, native to Belize and Guatemala, but is not yet well-documented.

Prof. Danziger’s collection of recordings will vastly expand and diversify the available corpus of Mopan language materials. The archive will also allow her to pursue the project's larger goal: exploring how a person’s idea of reality is influenced by the grammatical patterning of his or her native language and testing the idea that what may seem to be an intuitive divide between action and object is not a natural, inborn property of language, but is in fact a construction of Indo-European languages. The development of a larger and searchable database of Mopan texts and transcripts will allow her to examine how this language fits into or challenges current linguistic theory.

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