Planning a trip around Yucatán or the Riviera Maya in Mexico? You might want to brush up on how to say basic phrases in Maya. Maya is a family of Mesoamerican languages spoken by over 6 million people in Southern Mexico and Yucatán, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
While there are dozens of regional Maya dialects across Central America that are very different from one another, this article will focus on Yucatec Maya phrases, which are spoken on the Yucatán Peninsula of southern Mexico. You might hear this language spoken by locals while traveling in places like Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Mérida and Valladolid, as well as in the more isolated villages in the countryside.
Learning to speak indigenous languages will not only make you a more interesting person but could ingratiate you with locals so you can have deeper travel experiences while on the road. Getting invited for a meal of delicious cochinita pibil or poc chuc, a motorcycle ride through the jungle, or to explore hidden places only known by locals usually happens when one shows appreciation for local culture.
We compiled a basic phrasebook of Yucatec Maya so you can show off your local knowledge like a pro the next time you find yourself in Yucatán:
- Good day– maalob ki’in
- Good night– maalob ak’aab
- My name is– in kaabay [name]
- What is your name?– biix a kaabaj?
- How old are you?-jaaybe jaab yantech?
- How are you?– biix a waanil?
- Let’s go– Ko’ox
- I love you– in kaatech
- You’re beautiful– jach kichpanech
- You’re handsome– jach jaatsech
- Pleased to meet you– kimak in wol y kaajotkech
- I’m hungry– wiijem
- Do you speak English?– kaaj taan ingles?
- Let’s eat!– ko’ox jaanal
- What time is it?– baax hora?
- Can I get some water?– a dziik ten jaiij?
- Where can I find food?– tuux i kaaxtik jaanale?
- Where can I stay?– tuux u paati paatlej?
- Can I use your bathroom?– u paatij wokoj ich a baño
- How much does it cost?– baajux?
- I’m tired– kaanan nen
- That’s right– beeyob
- Can I borrow that?– ak tzak teni majantej?
- Can I get a lift?– a biiskenej?
- I’m single– nan i watan
- I’m married– tzokan in beel
- This is my spouse– le laj in nup
- This is my son/daughter– le laj y yaal
- I like you– utsil wikech
- Thank you!– nip oólal / Yum botik / Dios botik
- Goodbye– mal’ob
- See you later!– ak ikakbai
- Mayans rock!– Mayas u nuktakilon!
- I’m a traveler– ximbal maken
- I need help– kaabet ten andaj
- I’m sick, I need a doctor– koojanen kabet ten u tu doctor
Did you find this article interesting? Have you tried speaking in a local language? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!