Language of Poqomchi’ (Mayan) offering ceremonies

AMERINDIA 42: 103-134, 2020

Russian State University for the Humanities & University of Bonn


Abstract. Some Poqomchi’ Mayan communities in Guatemala actually practice
traditional offering ceremonies. Through the mediation of a ritual specialist, they
provide humans with an opportunity to submit requests to divine authorities for
something they wish to obtain. The language used during this ritual communication
differs from everyday Poqomchi’ in certain lexical, grammatical and discursive
respects. Based on primary fieldwork data, this paper discusses parallel syntactic
constructions, the metaphorical use of certain lexemes, the functions of loanwords and
the unexpected choice of tense/aspect/mood categories, among other features. In
addition, this article presents morphologically annotated and translated textual extracts
from three offering ceremonies, which may be useful for further studies on Poqomchi’
ritual communication.