5 Mayan Phrases which might come in handy

Filed under: Things to know - by Louise Hennessy

Mayan Language. So, you’ve decided on the Caribbean…and more specifically, the Mexican Caribbean.  It is inevitable therefore, that at some point you will come in touch with the Mayan language from the region of Yucatan, be it on a sign or even the first language of one of the friendly faces you encounter during your stay.

Well, when in Rome…

First things first; the pronunciation could very well throw you if you are unaware that the “X” at the beginning of a Mayan word is basically pronounced, “sh”. Hence, the famous parks of Xcaret and Xel há are in fact, “ShcarET” and “Shel HA”. This can come in handy when enquiring about excursions, or understanding exactly where they are offering to take you!


Now, repeat after us… COSH!  This is very common, and very easy to remember if you are out to impress. It is basically the equivalent of “let’s” when combined with other actions, or just “let’s go!”, when used alone. The name Ko’ox Hanal (COSH ha-NAL), which we once saw on the door of a local eatery, could almost seem too obvious, yet extremely logical. (Hanal meaning “eat”).

Ba’ax ka wa’alik?

Perhaps the best way to translate this would be somewhere between, “What’s up,” “How are things going with you?” and “What’s new with you?” And yes, it does look like a tongue twister, but it’s not too difficult pronunciation-wise, simply, ‘BA-shka wa-LIK”.

Tu’ux ka bin?

Particularly useful if you want to practice your Mayan out on your other half or travelling companion; the delightfully pronounced, “TU-sh ka-BIN”, is appropriate when enquiring exactly, “Where are you going?”

Mix ba’al

Simply, “You’re welcome/don’t mention it”. Easy to memorise, and even simpler to pronounce. Get your teeth round, “Mish-BAL”.

Ma’alob k’iin

You might hear it when you come down for breakfast, or board a bus on an early excursion, or just use it to wow the onlookers. Pronounced something in the vicinity of, “MA-lob Kin”, this is a lovely way to say “Good Morning”.

Why not give it a go? After all, how many people can say that they practiced their Mayan while they were on holiday? Let us know how you get on!

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