Kiche – The national but non official language of Guatemala

Between 2011 and 2012, interpreters were needed a total of 20,500 times in Nebraska courts. This was to help out in judicial proceedings and probation cases. Due to the high number of foreign speakers in Nebraska who do not understand English, Nebraska passed a law in 2000 that required interpreters to be provided in court. This was in an effort to provide justice and fairness, through adequate communication. Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice, Michael Heavican, reported that interpreters who were skilled in the Kiche language were posted to Columbus, Madison, Grand Island, Hartington, Fremont and Schuyler areas. This was in addition to interpreters in other languages that were posted to courts all over the state. This was seen as a major milestone for the judicial system in Nebraska.

Kiche is the national but non official language spoken in Guatemala in South America. A large percentage of the Kiche people can be found living in Guatemala’s highlands. Kiche is spoken by a total of 647,000 people. It is the second most widely spoken language in the country after Spanish. Most Kiche speakers have a working knowledge of Spanish. Kiche is written as Quiché in Spanish. It falls under the Mayan language group. The language has several dialects. The most frequently used is the central dialect. Mayan languages that are closely related to the Kiche language includes Tzutujil, Sakapultek, Uspantek and Kaqchikel. The word Kiche can be translated to mean ‘many trees’. “Ki’ stands for many and “che’ stands for the word tree.

The Kiche language has played an important role in the social and cultural development of Guatemala. The biggest change was the introduction of bilingualism, especially in the education sector. The most well known Kiche is Rigoberta Menchu, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992. The Popol Vuh is one of the well known classical works in the Kiche language.

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