Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Blogging from Haiti and Tsotsil update

First and foremost, a colleague will now be blogging from Haiti at
The Haiti Report. Let`s see what news he breaks in the next week and a half he is on the island.

From Chiapas I must say that the lesson on the Mayan concept of time and "intersubjectivity" must wait. My lesson on the latter has been postponed and my understanding of the former has been challenged by some material that I have just read by a French anthropologist. It will surely come this week.

Another interesting feature of most (if not all) Mayan languages is the system of numeration. Mayans use a base 20 rather than a base ten system. Even the calender is split up into 18 different twenty day months (as well as several "days out of time" which align the calender to the 365 day year).

Furthermore, the number twenty-one is given as (in the Tsotsil of Oventik) "Jun Cha`vinik," or basically, "one of the second man" (as my teacher points out, this implies a certain bit of machismo in the Mayan culture since it is thusly man-centered). As some may have already figured out, this numbering system is based on the number of fingers (including the dedos del pie) on every person. The number 21 is the first finger on the second person, the number 42 is the second finger on the second person, 65 is the fifth finger on the third person, etc.).

Above about 400 (20x20) these names get rather excessive, and many Tsotsil speakers use spanish numbers above twenty or so.

1 comment :

Ricardo Antonio Amador Torres said...

Sigue palante con mucho plante y nunca dejes que te tumben tu plante.