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Poptí, Jakaltek, Jacalteco
jab' xub'al
Spoken in Guatemala, Mexico
Region Huehuetenango, Chiapas
Total speakers approx. 88,800
Language family Mayan
  • Q'anjob'alan-Chujean
    • Q'anjob'alan
      • Poptí
        • Poptí, Jakaltek, Jacalteco
Language codes
ISO 639-1 None
ISO 639-2
ISO 639-3 jac – Poptí

The Jakaltek language (also called Poptí or Jakalteko) is a Mayan language of Guatemala spoken by around 90,000 Jakaltek people in the department of Huehuetenango and the adjoining part of Chiapas in southern Mexico. The name Poptí for the language is used by the Academia de Lenguas Mayas de Guatemala and the Guatemalan Congress.

The Jacaltec language has a Verb Subject Object syntax. Like many Native American languages, Jacaltec has a lot of complex agglutinative morphology and uses ergative-absolutive case alignment. It is divided in two dialects, Eastern and Western Jakalteko. "Eastern and Western Jakalteko understand each other's spoken languages, but not written text."[1]

Owing to Jacaltec's dissimilarity with Indo-European languages, the reasonably healthy linguistic population and the relative ease of access to Guatemala, Jacaltec has become a favorite of students of linguistic typology.

The Eastern Jacaltec language includes the following phonemes: a, b, c/qu, c'/q'u, ch, ch', e, i, j, k, k', l, m, n, n̈/ŋ, o, p, r, s, t, t', tx, tx', tz, tz', u, w, x, ẍ, y, and '.


Eastern Jacaltec is the only language besides the Malagasy language of Madagascar to make use of an n-diaeresis character in its alphabet. In both languages, the n-diaeresis represents a velar nasal consonant (ŋ) (like "ng" in "bang").

Jakaltek-language programming is carried by the CDI's radio station XEVFS, broadcasting from Las Margaritas, Chiapas.


  1. ^ Gordon, Raymond G, ed. "Jakalteko, Western." Ethnologue: Languages of the World. 15th ed. Dallas, TX: SIL International, 2005. 254. Print.

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