A language of Guatemala

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

891,000 (2003 census). 300,000 monolinguals. Ethnic population: 1,270,000 (2003 census).


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. All ages. 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. Videos. Dictionary. Grammar. Bible: 1995. Agency: Academy of Mayan Languages.

Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

Traditional religion, Christian.

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