“Centeredness as cultural and grammatical theme among the Maya-Mam of Guatemala”
Wes Collins, SIL, Ricardo Palma University
When: Thursday, September 10, 12:20-1:15
Where: Mahler 5/7
In this talk, I discuss the key Maya-Mam cultural value of centeredness and I suggest that this value is a pervasive organizing principle in Mayan thought, cosmology, and daily life. I show how the Mam understanding of issues as disparate as homestead construction, the pre-conquest central plaza, historical Mayan religious practice, Christian conversion, health concerns, the importance of the numbers two and four, the notions of agreement and forgiveness, child discipline, and moral stance are all instantiations of this basic underlying principle.
I also suggest that centeredness, in addition to being a pervasive Mam cultural principle, is also a grammatical theme, instantiated in large measure, by the formal notion of origo, the “space-time-social centre” of the world (Levinson, 1983, 64) and I show that the idea of spatial centeredness is evidenced in the Mam lexicon, as well as in aspects of the morphology, syntax, and narrative discourse structure of naturally occurring Mam texts.