Article published in:Ideophones: Between Grammar and Poetry
Edited by Katherine Lahti, Rusty Barrett and Anthony K. Webster
[Pragmatics and Society 5:3] 2014
► pp. 406–418
Ideophones and (non-)arbitrariness in the K’iche’ poetry of Humberto Ak’abal
This paper examines the ways in which Ak’abal uses K’iche’ ideophones and arbitrariness to highlight differences between Mayan languages and Spanish. This paper focuses on Ak’abal’s sound poems constructed through the use of K’iche’ ideophones, primarily onomatopoetic forms representing natural phenomena such as animal sounds, the movement of water, and sounds associated with weather. Ak’abal often treats non-onomatopoetic words (such as the names of birds) as ideophones, suggesting a direct (unmediated) relationship between K’iche’ signs and the natural elements of the environment. These uses of ideophones allow Ak’abal to position Mayan languages and literature as spiritually connected to the environment, in sharp contrast to the environmental destructiveness he associates with Spanish and Ladino cultural dominance in Guatemala.
Keywords: Mayan languages, Humberto Ak’abal, K’iche’, ideophones, verbal art, poetry, language revitalization
Published online: 14 November 2014
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