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The muuk' of resistance and the persistence of Mayan language

Word of the week: muuk' (resistance in Mayan)

illustration of Merida, Yucatán daily life

Muuk' is a Mayan word for strength or force.

Habitants of Yucatán hear Mayan words in a daily context. Some are so common that people who only speak Spanish know and use them regularly. They are used in ads from local businesses, as names of neighborhoods, in souvenirs for foreigners, and even a lot of last names from people of the region came from it. For some people, this is their first contact with the language, and they tend to mispronounce the words by trying to use Spanish phonetics.

For others, the first contact with words in the language is made more recreational:

-The regional theater, in which the actors use Mayan words or expressions when they are in character.

-Events made by the government to preserve traditions.

-Music concerts: some bands are using Maya to make their music because it is their first language.

-Turn on the radio because some stations and programs are made in this language.}

Students in public colleges in Yucatán have it as a mandatory subject, depending on their chosen career. People in the area organically learn more than one word just by getting involved in the community.

The Mayan community is big and strong enough to fight to preserve their language and traditions. They have the Muuk' to keep passing on their language to the newest generations, to keep talking it, creating with it, dreaming in it with joy, despite all the hate and racism they have endured in a society that still now matches speaking Maya as being low class or even poor.

They have the Muuk' to claim justice when their rights are violated because there are no interpreters when they find themselves in front of the authorities, such as in the case of Evelia, a woman who ended up in jail because of the prejudice of doctors.

Muuk' is the feeling that moves them to ensure public hospitals and other essential places have the needed signage for Mayan speakers. This is also why they have successfully demanded that the government develop a program for anyone who wants to learn their language.

Muuk' is what moves them as it moves all of us. That's why they have a big speaking community, even when the language has a lot of variants depending on where the speakers are from, so there is not only one Mayan language but multiples that are spoken through Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and even in the state of San Francisco in the USA.

Musicians you may like if you want to learn more about this language:

-Pat boy

-Yaalen K'uj

-ADN Maya colectivo

-Chan Santa Roots

-Juumil Moots

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