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Mayan languages are spoken by at least 6 million native Maya. Most of them are in Guatemala, Mexico, or Belize. In 1996, Guatemala formally recognized 21 Mayan languages by name, and Mexico recognises eight more.
The Mayan language family is one of the best documented and most studied in the Americas. Modern Mayan languages come from Proto-Mayan, a language which was probably spoken at least 5,000 years ago. It has been partially reconstructed.
- In linguistics, it is common to use Mayan when talking about to the languages, or an aspect of a language. In other academic fields, Maya is the preferred usage. It is used as both a singular and plural noun, and as the adjectival form.
- Spence, Jack; David R. Dye, Paula Worby, Carmen Rosa de Leon-Escribano, George Vickers, and Mike Lanchin (August 1988). "Promise and Reality: Implementation of the Guatemalan Peace Accords". Hemispheres Initiatives. http://hemisphereinitiatives.org/promise.htm#accord. Retrieved 2006-12-06.
- Campbell, Lyle (1997). American Indian Languages: The Historical Linguistics of Native America (Oxford Studies in Anthropological Linguistics, 4). New York: Oxford University Press. . p.165.