N. Louanna Furbee (formerly, Louanna Furbee-Losee)

The Tojolabal project ran from September 1976 until February 1980 and was one of the earliest computer-assisted Dictionary and Text Concordance projects for an indigenous language. Linguistics and computer programming have traveled a long way since the latter half of the 1970s. Theoretical frameworks have shifted and boundary marking and characters in computer representations that challenge the user here in the original scanned copies, have now been addressed in international conventions. This work was something of a technologically “bleeding edge” effort, and completely rewriting the Concordance and Dictionary to bring them to conformity with present-day computational conventions and linguistic frameworks would require a very long effort indeed. Because a number of persons have asked that the information be made conveniently available again, and since microfiche readers are not so common as they once were, we are answering the request by providing the originals in a format that the user can access via computer download.

The Museum of Anthropology is pleased to make available as free downloads two Miscellaneous Publications in Anthropology, #16 and #15 (a Tojolabal-Maya text concordance and a Tojolabal-Maya-English root and word dictionary), plus an introduction to their use (the NEH Report for the Project). We hope that this edition will help further knowledge of this Mayan language, and apologize for the transliteration required on the part of the user.

Thanks to the volunteer efforts of Karl and Randa Marhenke, who photographed and prepared PDF files of the originally offered microfiche documents, and to Cynthia Irsik, who scanned and prepared PDF files of original paper documents.

The citation forms are as given below:

  1. Furbee, N. Louanna (-Losee). 1981. Tojolabal Text and Dictionary. Final Report to the National Endowment for the Humanities, NEH #RT-24908-76-715 and #RT-24908-76-715. University of Missouri-Columbia.
  2. Furbee, N. Louanna (-Losee). 1981. Tojolabal Text Concordance. Museum of Anthropology, Miscellaneous Publications in Anthropology #16. Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri-Columbia. 5620 pages. ISBN: 0913134767
  3. Furbee, N. Louanna (-Losee). 1981. Tojolabal Dictionary. Museum of Anthropology, Miscellaneous Publications in Anthropology #15. Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri-Columbia. 570 pages. ISBN: 0913134775

Dictionary Notes

Note that pages 1-324 comprise the "Word Dictionary" (Tojolabal to English), pages 325-421 (numbered 1-97) the "Morpheme Dictionary", and pages 422-537 (116 unnumbered pages) the "English to Tojolabal Dictionary."

Additional Notes

Signs and Symbols:

Please note that pp. 1-5 and 8 of Appendix II b are helpful in figuring out the symbols and abbreviations used; p. 6 gives a summary of the notations for pronouns, and p. 7 gives the character set used. (% is used for a glottal stop, for instance).

Under this late 1970s analysis, there is a zero prefix morpheme, indicated by 03-, that contrasts with the incompletive aspectual markers; where marked it indicates completive aspect.

One sign, resembling a backwards "6" (a bit like a schwa) may be a boundary marker used in the computer coding, but at this late date, we cannot be sure what it was used to indicate. It was not defined in the main section of the report or its appendices.


There are a few typographical errors, such as:

Word Dictionary, p. 6, 6th grid-line from bottom: "argument" should have been written instead of "arguement".

Word Dictionary, p 106, 6th grid-line from bottom: In the phrase "(cf. K'UKUL)", "K'UHUL" should be written instead of "K'UKUL".

In a work of this size and character, other typographical errors are likely.


There are also some inconsistencies. These include:

Some of the words do not appear in the final main Dictionary or Concordance (the vocable "LO", and the borrowing from Spanish "Krus", for instance), though they do occur in the Sample Text, Sample Dictionary, and Sample Concordance of Appendices IIc-f.

Some of the words that appear in the far left column of the Concordance seem to be misplaced ("CAHN" at JB019 instead of JB004 on page 1038, for instance).

Occasionally some sections are duplicated for no explained reason (e.g., the FL013 material at pp. 163-192).

Many talented and generous persons helped with this work. M. Jill Brody, Susan Knowles (later Knowles-Berry), Jackie Wessell, and Robert Freund served as research assistants for the data collection and language analysis; Terry Majewski prepared data, and John Pappas wrote the computer programs. Many volunteers helped to conserve data files damaged in a disastrous fire that burned the lab building in which the project was housed in 1977. Without their help this work would not have been completed, in even its truncated state. Many, many Tojolabal persons shared their homes, time, and stories with us; one community organized periodic visits to our office in Comitán to bring materials. Three language consultants were particularly essential: Manuel Aguilar Gómez and Alejandro Aguilar Gómez, both of whom spent short periods in the United States helping to train the research assistants and aiding in the translations and transcriptions there, as well as working with the collection team in Chiapas, where they were joined by Hermelindo Jímenez Jímenez.

Through its grant (NEH #RT-24908-76-715) the National Endowment for the Humanities funded the original project and gave a post-fire supplement for salvage work; its help throughout the process is gratefully acknowledged.

For more information about the Tojolabal Maya language and its speakers, please see the web sites of (a) the Tojolabal Language Documentation Center (http://sssat.missouri.edu) and (b) the Archive of the Indigenous Languages of Latin America (http://www.ailla.utexas.org/site/welcome.html) where the Tojolabal Language Documentation Center archives its language data.