Meaning and Time


A Q'eqchi'-Mayan myth, narrated in 1909, is translated and analyzed. This myth describes the elopement of B'alamq'e (the sun) with Po (the moon), the actions undertaken by Po's father to punish the fugitives, and the repercussions of those events on the current world. In broad terms, it may be understood as a reflexive cosmogony--narrating events that take place in time, as undertaken by actors who are time, to explain the nature of time. Accordingly, the analysis focuses on grammatical categories, discourse patterns, cultural values, and social relations that shed light on Mayan understandings of temporality. Four interrelated way of framing temporality are deployed: poetic meter, or the linear sequencing of tokens of a common type; the relation between speech event, narrated event, and reference event; the construal of local pasts and futures vis performative acts in the present; and community-specific beliefs about time, or chronotopes.


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