Vocabulary Q'eqchi'

by Søren Wichmann and Kerry Hull  

The vocabulary contains 1995 meaning-word pairs ("entries") corresponding to core LWT meanings from the recipient language Q'eqchi'. The corresponding text chapter was published in the book Loanwords in the World's Languages. The language page Q'eqchi' contains a list of all loanwords arranged by donor languoid.

Word form LWT code Meaning Core list Borrowed status Source words

Field descriptions


The grammatical analyses in the gloss field are preliminary. They are based on the contributors' still somewhat inadequate knowledge of Q’eqchi’ grammar and descriptions that are only partial, such as Freund (1976).


For the purpose of the Age field, each node in the Mayan family back to which a word can be traced constitutes the age. These nodes are translated into absolute dates from glottochronological estimates that were produced by Terrence Kaufman in 1968 as cited, without bibliographical reference, in Anonymous 1976. This estimates has advantages over those of Kaufman 1976, where not all nodes are dated (for instance, the breaking off of Q’eqchi’ from K’iche’an is not dated), and where only the time of breakup of languages is given rather than intervals for the existence of some proto-languages. The nodes could be translated into other dates from other estimates (e.g., those used by Brown in his contribution on Tzotzil to the present project). Kaufman’s dates are presumably produced following standard methodology as described in Swadesh’ works. As mentioned, for most nodes Kaufman gives an interval, but for some only a single point in time. For instance, K’iche’an begins 300 BCE and ends 100 BCE, whereas proto-Mayan begins and ends in 2500 BCE. Dates for single current languages correspond to the split from the nearest sister language to the present. For instance, Q’eqchi’ breaks up from K’iche’an in 300 CE and continues to the present. When a word is found in subgroups that are not immediately connected to the same node it is sometimes assumed that it has diffused during the time of the proto-languages, and the date given will then correspond to the interval during which these proto-languages overlap. For geographically non-contiguous groups, however, it is assumed that the word goes back to the latest node connecting the two proto-languages and the age is given accordingly. The age of Q’eqchi’ is normally just given as ‘Q’eqchi’’, corresponding to 300-2007 CE, but for Spanish borrowings it is possible to make the followings stratification: the treatment of the Spanish s sound as a palatal (e.g., meex for mesa ‘table’) is seen as evidence for the borrowing as having happened during ‘Early Colonial Q’eqchi’ (1529-1500 CE). ‘Colonial Q’eqchi’’ (1529-1800 CE), is used when the reflection of Colonial Spanish phonology and phonetics (xaar for jarro ‘jug’) or lexicon (meet for the archaic limeta ‘bottle’) shows this to have been borrowed during this period. Borrowings from colonial times where s is treated as s (son for son ‘music’) are dated to ‘Later Colonial Q’eqchi’’ (1550-1800). When the treatment of s as s is the only guide to dating (e.g., iglees < iglesia ‘church’), borrowings are assigned the label ‘Later Post-Conquest Q’eqchi’ (1550-2007). When the treatment of the sound spelled “j” as a velar fricative is the only guide (e.g., ob’eja < oveja ‘lamb’), borrowings are assigned the label ‘Post-Colonial Q’eqchi’ (1800-2007). We use ‘20th century Q’eqchi’’ (1900-2007 CE) for loanwords whose references to modern objects help in dating the time of borrowing to this period (e.g., teleb’ision). Spanish borrowings that cannot be dated more precisely are assigned the label ‘Post-Conquest Q’eqchi’ (1529-2007).


Anonymous. 1976. “Appendix: Historical and geographical sketch of K’ekchi within the Mayan language family; outline grammar of K’ekchi.” In Pinkerton (ed.), 160-168.

Freund, Robert. 1976. “A sketch of K’ekchi verb morphology.” In: Pinkerton (ed.), 26-47.

Kaufman, Terrence. 1976. “Archaeological and linguistic correlations in Mayaland and associated areas.” World Archaeology 8(1): 101-18.

Pinkerton, Sandra (ed.). 1976. Studies in K’ekchi. Texas Linguistic Forum, 3. Austin: Department of Linguistics, The University of Texas at Austin.


In the database we tag borrowings identified by phonological criteria as ‘clearly borrowed’ and borrowings identified by distributional evidence as ‘probably borrowed.’ The tags ‘perhaps borrowed’ and ‘very little evidence for borrowing’ are used for cases where the evidence is weak and of a more speculative nature. Our chapter also mentions these criteria.


References referred to in database:

Anonymous. 2004. Xtusulal Aatin Sa’ Q’eqchi: Vocabulario Q’eqchi’. Guatemala City: Academia of Lenguas Mayas de Guatemala.

Cu Cab, Carlos Humberto. 1998. Q’eqchi’ - Kaxlan aatin ut Kaxlan aatin - Q’eqchi’. Guatemala City: Instituto de Lingüística de la Universidad Rafael Landívar.

Freeze, Ray A. 1975. A Fragment of an Early K’ekchi’ Vocabulary with Comments on the Cultural Content. University of Missouri Monographs in Anthropology, No. 2, Studies in Mayan Linguistics, No. 1. Department of Anthropology, University of Missouri-Columbia.

Jones, H. Lee. 2003. Birds of Belize. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Kaufman, Terrence with John Justeson. 2003. A Preliminary Mayan Etymological Dictionary. Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies. .

Kockelman, Paul. 2007. Inalienable possession and personhood. Language in Society 36(3).

Ponce E Hijos, Rosales. 1930. Vocabulario Quecchi—Español, seguna edición. Reimpreso en la tipografia “El Norte.” Coban, A.V.

Sam Juárez, Miguel, Ernesto Chen Cao, Crisanto Xal Tec, Domingo Cuc Chen, and Pedro Tiul Pop. 1997. Diccionario del idioma q’eqchi’. La Antigua, Guatemala: Proyecto Lingüístico Francisco Marroquín.

Sedat, William. 1955. Nuevo diccionario de las lenguas k’ekchi’ y española. Chamelco, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala: Instituto Lingüístico de Verano.

Wichmann, Søren and Cecil H. Brown. 2003. Contact among some Mayan languages: inferences from loanwords. Anthropological Linguistics 45(1): 57-93.


ABS absolutive
ABSTR abstractive
ADJ adjectival affix
ANTIPASS antipassive
AGEN agentive
APPL applicative
CAUS causative
DEM demonstrative
DER derivational affix
ERG ergative
FEM feminine
INSTR instrumental
INTR suffix on intransitive verbs
ITER iterative
MASC masculine
NEG negation
NMLZR nominalizer
NOM nominal suffix
NONFUT nonfuture
PERF perfect
PL plural
PREP preposition
PRON pronoun
PRTCPL participial
RED reduplication
REFL reflexive
SG singular
TR suffix on transitive verbs
VRBLZR verbalizing affix