Language Stories: Episode 5 – Maya Isn’t Dead


Welcome to episode 5 of Language Stories. This time we’re in Mérida, Mexico and we’re talking all things Maya, Yucatec Maya to be precise.

"Is Maya dead?" "Are the Mayans gone?" The answer is no. Mayans still live in Mexico and Central America. In this episode of Language Stories, we meet speakers of Yucatec Maya. Click through to listen + watch!

Why Yucatec Maya?

Ok, time to be totally honest here. Before we started researching for this video, I thought that Maya was one language. Turns out, Maya is actually it’s own branch of languages with around 30 different languages. Yup, the shame.

But, it’s not really my fault! You see, I’d been given a book by Kate (who you’ll remember I thanked a gazillion times in the Montreal episode) called ‘Spoken Maya’ and everytime someone had spoken about the language to me in Spanish so far, they’d called it ‘Maya’.

Confusing, huh? We’ll talk more about this in the episode…

But why an episode about Yucatec Maya?

After changing our plans for Mexico we were spending a lot of time in Mérida, Mexico. One of the more prominent languages besides Spanish in the region is Yucatec Maya.

As soon as we saw the odd trilingual street sign here and there in the centre of the city, we knew we’d found the next episode of Language Stories, and what happened as we began to explore and find people to speak with? Wow!

What we learnt from making this episode really opened my eyes.

Take a listen and a watch to see why Maya isn’t dead.

The Video

The Podcast

Further Reading + Resources

Photos of the Yuya nests Mirna mentions – take a look and see how the description fits the language.

National Geographic – The more in-depth explanation for the supposed “end-of-the-world” preditctions in 2012

Vicente Canche Moo – take a look at all the projects Vicente has worked on/is working on on his website.

Ko’one’ex kanik maaya – the project in the region teaching Yucatec Maya in schools.

Xiimbal Kaaj – my favourite Pat Boy song featuring Yazmín Novelo, who also volunteers with Radio Yuuyum.

ADN MAYA – Pat Boy’s record label YouTube channel.

Vice/Noisey – an interview with Pat Boy (in Spanish)

Radio Yuuyum – check their official website to see everything going on!

Global Voices – an article about Radio Yuuyum

Support The Show

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How did you enjoy this episode of Language Stories? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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About Lindsay Williams

Why hello there!
I’m Lindsay and I do Languages. I blog, vlog and teach all things language. I blog about languages right here at Lindsay Does Languages, and about travel over at Mundo Trundle. If you’re looking for language learning inspiration then stay a while. You might find just what you’re looking for. :)

  • room rentals

    Ahhhhh how could you pronounce Mérida like that? Ok now that i got that off my chest, great job on this video! Very captivating for anyone interested in less common languages. Keep it up

    • Haha! I had to pronounce it in my British English way seeing as I was speaking English for the podcast – although I’m pretty sure I got into it and said it as it should be at the end of the last podcast episode! 😉

  • Alberto Moragon

    It came as a surprise that there were people speaking languages different from Spanish in Central America!

  • I love this! Mayan languages are my favorite, and what I’m hoping to study more in my PhD that hopefully I will start next year. Most people that I talk to think that all Mayans died a long time ago. They are amazed to learn that it still exists, and there is not only a spoken language still around, but there are many! I’ll be saving your video to show people! <3 I'm so excited that you discovered this!

    • Awesome! I’m so glad the video will get seen by more people! 🙂 There’s another episode about a Mayan language on the way so keep your eyes peeled… 😉