19th Edition



A language of Guatemala

Alternate Names
Central K’iche’, Central Quiché, Chiquel, Qach’abel, Quiché

2,330,000. 300,000 monolinguals.


El Quiché department: Chichicastenango, Chiché, Cunén, Joyabaj, Sacapulas, San Andrés Sajcabajá, Uspantán, Zacualpa municipalities; Quetzaltenango, Retalhuleu, Sololá, Suchitepéquez, and Totonicapán departments; some communities in Huehuetenango and Baja Verapaz departments.

Language Maps
Language Status

4 (Educational). Recognized language (2003, Law of National Languages, Decree 19).


Cunén Kiché, Joyabaj Kiché, West Central Kiché, Eastern Kiché, San Andrés Kiché.


VOS; ergativity; passives (active, passive, antipassive); aspect; 24 consonant and 10 vowel phonemes; non-tonal; stress on penultimate or final syllable.

Language Use

Vigorous. All domains, interpreters required in courts, some bilingual schools, oral use in religious services. Positive attitudes. Many also use Spanish [spa]. Some also use Kaqchikel [cak]. A few also use Mam [mam], Q’eqchi’ [kek], Tz’utujil [tzj].

Language Development
Literacy rate in L1: 5%–10%. Literacy rate in L2: 25%–35%. 40,000 readers, 20,000 can write in K’iche’. Taught in primary schools. Radio programs. Videos. Dictionary. Grammar. Bible: 1995. Agency: Academy of Mayan Languages.

Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

Traditional religion, Christian.

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