Spatial reference in Yukatek Maya: a survey
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It has been shown that spatial concepts are particularly richly lexicalized in some Mayan languages (see Brown, this volume, on Tzeltal, and references there on Tzotzil, Mam, and other members of the family). Together with the finding that spatial reference relies predominantly on an absolute frame of reference, driven by cognitive skills of spatial orientation unattested with Euro-Americans, this has led to the assumption that space plays a more prominent role in Mayan culture and cognition than it does in Western culture and cognition (cf. Brown this volume, England 1978: 226). The study of Yukatek Maya (YM) adds a new perspective to this line of research. YM shares most linguistic resources for spatial reference with the linguistically and culturally more conservative Mayan languages spoken in the highlands of Chiapas and Guatemala (the only notable exception is bound directional particles, which are absent in YM).