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Book A Maya Grammar (Papers of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, V. 9.) by Alfred M. Tozzer (1977-10-10)

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A Maya Grammar (Papers of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, V. 9.) by Alfred M. Tozzer (1977-10-10)

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  • Dover Publications Inc. (1732)
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Review Text

  • By zach on May 17, 2016

    Whether you're interested in Maya or general linguistics, this is a great grammar. It's well-researched and though a little dry stands up as one of the best grammars of the early 20th century.My only problem is the spelling system. Tozzer had no idea how much Maya spelling would change after his work. But his spellings rest somewhere between the colonial spellings and contemporary spellings, meaning you have to do a lot of mental conversions while you're reading. Also, writing so early on in the century, Tozzer does not include many of the Spanish loans so prevalent in contemporary Maya ... which is good or bad depending on your reason for studying the language.There are probably more accurate contemporary grammars on Famsi and other sources for free, but if you want a hard copy reference for Maya grammar, this is the one.

  • By K G R on September 11, 2010

    Tozzer's nearly 90-year old work "A Maya Grammar" is obviously very dated. Nearly all of the major developments in the decipherment of the Maya hieroglyphs, as well as countless linguistical observations, occurred after his death. In terms of style, much is left to be desired due to his use of Latin terms for grammatical descriptions, as well as his frustratingly long footnotes, which are not translated. The book also assumes a knowledge of basic linguistics, and therefore is not appropriate for those who are not familiar with linguistical and grammatical terminology. Additionally, his writing betrays the blatant racism of the time, e.g. describing a Maya language informant as being of "a higher grade of intelligence than the average Maya" [sic].However, these shortcomings should be overlooked to understand the work for what it is, an amazing resource on the grammar of Yucatec Maya language. The book does not explicitly describe itself as being a work on "Yucatec" Maya, but when reviewed it clearly is focused solely on that particular Maya idiom (it would obviously be very difficult to present a grammar of all Maya languages in one short book). Tozzer does a good job of presenting the various grammatical categories of Yucatec concisely, yet thoroughly. He rightly criticizes most of the then extant works for trying to describe Yucatec in terms of Spanish and/or Latin grammatical categories. He also lived among the Maya for quite some time and acquired his grammatical expertise from field experience, not simply from asking informants to translate particular words from Spanish to Maya. The book definitely will give a beginning student of Yucatec Maya, whether self-taught or in a classroom, a good foundation to progress towards more advanced levels.Finally, it should be noted that this book contains a very detailed and complete bibliography of all works then existent on the Maya languages, with many critical comments and reviews. If nothing else, it serves as a helpful resource to scholars looking for pre-1922 works on Mayan languages. If you have any interest in Mayan/Mesoamerican linguistics, or for some other reason want to learn Yucatec Maya, I highly recomend this book.

  • By Daymon Smith on December 12, 2011

    With all the computerized versions of these texts, you have to be careful to get one that hasn't been digitized into an ugly font, with mispellings, and this text is it: an original reprint of Tozzer's work, the edition to get if you're looking into this text.


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