Date of Award

1-1-2008

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Anthropology

First Advisor

Hofling, Carles

Abstract

This paper examines consonant-vowel syllabic spelling in Maya hieroglyphic writing, comparing it with Japanese writing, both of which use logo-syllabograms. The central aim is to suggest a new perspective that will contribute to building testable theories for Mayan hieroglyphic spelling rules. Two research questions addressed here are: 1) how does the ancient Maya spelling system work; and 2) what is the motivation behind the ancient Mayan people's choice and use of CV syllabograms and logo-syllabic writing. I will investigate these questions from the following perspectives: 1) linguistic approaches to logo-syllabic writing systems; 2) phonetics; 3) a native Japanese speaker's intuition; 4) relationships between spoken and written languages. By using linguistic theories and methods with anthropological comparative methods, I propose the hypothesis that a word-final vowel in Maya hieroglyphic writing represents either an echo-vowel, a part of grammatical morpheme, a paragogic vowel accounting for word-final syllabification, or an underspelled word-final consonant.

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