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This collection of riddles began in Ixil as a way to share the playfulness that Ixilspeaking members of the team of authors enjoy in their language. We have paid careful attention to how language and culture work together in creating meaning and a sense of playfulness. Like all poetic and playful forms, riddles can never be the same in translation. They work because of the way that forms of the language interact with expected or unexpected cultural meanings. We have tried to choose riddles that can be understood in all three languages, but the fullest meanings are available only in the original Ixil. Puns (or near puns) are an important source of humor in Ixil, and some of these riddles depend on a pun in Ixil, which is not a pun in English or Spanish. Also, many of the riddles here are based on commonly recognized properties of everyday objects in the Ixil area. Some of these objects or their properties are not as commonly recognized outside of the Maya world or Mesoamerica more broadly. Here we have tried to choose riddles that we hope are recognizable to English and Spanish speakers, even if their fullest sense is not possible in all three languages. Our translations attempt to preserve as much of the playfulness in all three languages as possible (so they are not always word-for-word translations) while still being faithful to the original Ixil meanings.

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Writing, Translation and Editing Team: Ma’l B’alay Raymundo Pérez, Juan Romeo Guzaro Luis, Domingo Abraham Cedillo de Paz, Sherrel Rieger, María Luz García

Photographs: Juan Romeo Guzaro Luis

Design: Holly Schoenfield

Licensed under CC BY-ND-ND 4.0.

For more information contact:

Lejich Yol tu Yolb'al Ixhil / Adivinanzas Ixiles / Ixil Riddles