According to Omniglot, Mayan script consists of approximately five hundred and fifty logograms. A logogram is a symbol that represents a word. Further, the language has about three hundred hieroglyphs for places and gods and roughly one hundred and fifty syllabograms. These are symbols representing syllables.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Use an online translator tool to translate English to Mayan. The perl script translator app devised by Jim Duyer is one example. Click in the box and type the text you want to have translated. Then click “Translate this.” The corresponding Mayan glyphs will be shown.
Use a dictionary, such as the Maya Hieroglyph Dictionary produced by Peter Mathews and Péter Bíró. Scroll down to “English Words.” Click the letter that your English word begins with. A list of words beginning with the chosen letter appears. The pronunciation is shown on the left. The hieroglyph is shown on the right. You can also use the “Word Search” tool to locate an English word, if present in the dictionary.
Discover more about how to translate Mayan with “A Preliminary Classic Maya - English / English - Classic Maya Vocabulary of Hieroglyphic Readings” written by Erik Boot of Leiden University in the Netherlands. (See link in Resources.) Although a work in progress, Boot’s paper is a very scholarly attempt to shed light on many aspects of the Mayan language, including phonemic orthography -- or the system used for writing the language.
Learn all the Mayan logograms, hieroglyphs and syllabograms. You already know far more words than the combined total of known Mayan symbols, so learning the Mayan language is probably well within your grasp. Devote a few hours to the task every week. In time, you should be able to translate English to Mayan using your own knowledge of the two languages.
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