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Guatemala language

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© Lonely Planet Publications

334

Language
relationship between what you see in writing and how it’s pronounced.

CONTENTS

LANGUAGE

Pronunciation
Gender & Plurals
Accommodations
Conversation & Essentials
Directions
Health
Emergencies
Language Difficulties
Numbers
Shopping & Services
Time & Dates
Transportation
Travel with Children
Modern Mayan
K’iche’
Mam

Vowels
334
335
335
336
336
336
337
337
337
338
338
338
339
340
340
341

There are 21 Mayan indigenous languages
used in and around Guatemala, but Spanish
is still the most commonly spoken language,
and what visitors will encounter on a daily
basis. If you’re keen to try out some Mayan
languages, see the short and sweet Mam and
K’iche’ sections at the end of this chapter.
It’s easy enough to pick up some basic
Spanish, but for those who want to delve a
little deeper, courses are available in Antigua (p106), Panajachel (p129), San Pedro
La Laguna (p143), Nebaj (p158), Quetzaltenango (p168), Todos Santos Cuchumatán
(p186), Monterrico (p206), Cobán (p220)
and near Flores (p283 and p284). Alternatively, before you leave home you can study
books, records and tapes, resources that are
often available free at public libraries.
Evening or college courses are also an excellent way to get started. For food-related
words and phrases, see p59.
For a more comprehensive guide to the
Spanish of Guatemala, get a copy of Lonely
Planet’s Latin American Spanish Phrasebook.

a
e
i
o
u

y

Consonants
Most Spanish consonants are pronounced
much the same way as their English counterparts. A few of the exceptions are listed
below.
While the consonants ch, ll and ñ are generally considered distinct letters, ch and ll
are now often listed alphabetically under c
and l respectively. The letter ñ is still treated
as a separate letter and comes after n in
dictionaries.
b
c
ch
d
g
h

j

PRONUNCIATION
Spanish spelling is phonetically consistent,
meaning that there’s a clear and consistent

as in ‘father’
as in ‘met’
as in ‘marine’
as in ‘or’ (without the ‘r’ sound)
as in ‘rule’; the ‘u’ is not pronounced
after q and in the letter combinations
gue and gui, unless it’s marked with
a diaeresis (eg argüir), in which case
it’s pronounced as English ‘w’
at the end of a word or when it stands
alone, it’s pronounced as the Spanish
i (eg ley); between vowels within a
word it’s as the ‘y’ in ‘yonder’

ll
ñ

similar to English ‘b,’ but softer;
referred to as ‘b larga’
as in ‘celery’ before e and i; otherwise
as English ‘k’
as in ‘church’
as in ...
LANGUAGE
334
CONTENTS
Language
relationship between what you see in writ-
ing and how it’s pronounced.
Vowels
a as in ‘father’
e as in ‘met’
i as in ‘marine’
o as in ‘or’ (without the ‘r’ sound)
u as in ‘rule’; the ‘u’ is not pronounced
after q and in the letter combinations
gue and gui, unless it’s marked with
a diaeresis (eg argüir), in which case
it’s pronounced as English ‘w’
y at the end of a word or when it stands
alone, it’s pronounced as the Spanish
i (eg ley); between vowels within a
word it’s as the ‘y’ in ‘yonder’
Consonants
Most Spanish consonants are pronounced
much the same way as their English coun-
terparts. A few of the exceptions are listed
below.
While the consonants ch, ll and ñ are gen-
erally considered distinct letters, ch and ll
are now often listed alphabetically under c
and l respectively. The letter ñ is still treated
as a separate letter and comes after n in
dictionaries.
b similar to English ‘b,’ but softer;
referred to as ‘b larga’
c as in ‘celery’ before e and i; otherwise
as English ‘k’
ch as in ‘church’
d as in ‘dog,’ but between vowels and
after l or n, the sound is closer to the
‘th’ in ‘this’
g as the ‘ch’ in the Scottish loch before
e and i (‘kh’ in our guides to pro-
nunciation); elsewhere, as in ‘go’
h invariably silent. If your name begins
with this letter, listen carefully if
you’re waiting for public officials to
call you.
j as the ‘ch’ in the Scottish loch (written
as ‘kh’ in our guides to pronun-
ciation)
ll as the ‘y’ in ‘yellow’
ñ as the ‘ni’ in ‘onion’
There are 21 Mayan indigenous languages
used in and around Guatemala, but Spanish
is still the most commonly spoken language,
and what visitors will encounter on a daily
basis. If you’re keen to try out some Mayan
languages, see the short and sweet Mam and
K’iche’ sections at the end of this chapter.
It’s easy enough to pick up some basic
Spanish, but for those who want to delve a
little deeper, courses are available in Anti-
gua (p106), Panajachel (p129), San Pedro
La Laguna (p143), Nebaj (p158), Quetzal-
tenango (p168), Todos Santos Cuchumatán
(p186), Monterrico (p206), Cobán (p220)
and near Flores (p283 and p284). Alterna-
tively, before you leave home you can study
books, records and tapes, resources that are
often available free at public libraries.
Evening or college courses are also an excel-
lent way to get started. For food-related
words and phrases, see p59.
For a more comprehensive guide to the
Spanish of Guatemala, get a copy of Lonely
Planet’s Latin American Spanish Phras e book.
PRONUNCIATION
Spanish spelling is phonetically consistent,
meaning that there’s a clear and consistent
Pronunciation 334
Gender & Plurals 335
Accommodations 335
Conversation & Essentials 336
Directions 336
Health 336
Emergencies 337
Language Difficulties 337
Numbers 337
Shopping & Services 338
Time & Dates 338
Transportation 338
Travel with Children 339
Modern Mayan 340
K’iche’ 340
Mam 341
© Lonely Planet Publications
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