Get to know the instructors, the resident director and advisors that play an important role in our Yucatec Maya Program. Check out additional faculty projects here.

Fidencio Briceño Chel

With his research specialization on Yucatec Maya language and culture, Fidencio Briceño Chel has over fifteen years of experience teaching Yucatec Maya. As a native of Mexico, he lives and works in Yucatán Mexico. He will soon receive his PhD from the Universidad Autónoma de México and has numerous publications including “Las diferencias de ‘querer’: distinction entre verbo y auxiliar en el maya yucateco” in Tercer Congreso de Estudios Mayas and Na’at le ba’ala paalen: Adivina esta cosa niño (Adivinanzas mayas y yucatecas).

Geronimo Can Tec

Originally from Sucopo, Tizimin, Yucatan, Gerónimo Can Tec is a native Yucatec Maya speaker. Since 1996 he has worked with and for the Mayan people. Can Tec earned a degree in Maya Linguistics and Culture from the Universidad de Oriente (Valladolid, Mexico). He teaches Maya language, culture and linguistics at the Centro Peninsular en Humanidades y Ciencias Sociales (Merida, Mexico), at the Universidad de Oriente, at the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán (UADY), and at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a researcher, coauthor, coadaptador and reviewer of educational materials in Maya at the Instituto de Educación para Adultos del Estado de Yucatán and the UADY.  He also serves as advisor to the UADY Institutional Program of Maya Language. He has developed Maya language assessment tools, translated colloquial, legal, technical and literary texts from Spanish to Maya, transcribed colloquial and specialized texts from Maya to Spanish, and transcribed colonial Yucatec Maya texts.  He joined the Summer Yucatec Maya Institute in 2010.

Ismael May May

Ismael May May was born in Kimbila, town of Izamal, Yucatan. He has a degree in Education from the Universidad Autónoma del Yucatán (UADY), and has completed graduate work in Anthropology.  May May has taught Yucatec Maya for Mexican and U.S. colleges and universities since 2006. He has coordinated and taught programs of reading-writing and training of teachers, translators and interpreters of Maya for the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) and the Universidad de Oriente (Valladolid, Mexico). He was a translator for the Fonoteca (Sound Library) of the Ministry of Public Education in Yucatan, Mexico, and a leading broadcaster of radio and television programs in his native language.

May May received, in 2001, the Itzamná Prize for first place in Mayan literature. He has been Coordinator of the Institute for the Development of Maya Culture. He has also been a fellow as a Mayan writer and writing advisor in indigenous languages for the National Council for Culture and the Arts. In 2012 he won first place, Alfredo Barrera Vazquez Prize for Mayan language fiction of the Universidad Autónoma del Yucatán Literary Games, part of the Feria Internacional de la Lectura, with the story “Ja’il cháak”. He is the author of the book Kan Maaya yéetel mejen tsikbalo’ob (Learn Maya with brief dialogues), reprinted by UNAM in 2010, for the teaching and learning of language, and a book chapter about written Maya through electronic forms of communication and “Ka’aj maanen te’elo’, tu lu’umil Mayab” published by the Ministry of Culture and the Arts. His stories have appeared in venues such as “Yucatan Maya Identity and Culture” (UADY), “Wanderings and tribulations”, “K’aaylay” among others. He has participated in national and international academic events with presentations about the language.

David Mora Marín

A Mayanist linguist and Associate Professor in the Department of Linguistics at UNC-CH, David-Mora Marín’s research specializations include Mayan linguistics and epigraphy, (especially in historical linguistics and the study of ancient Mayan hieroglyphic writing), issues of language and power and civilization studies, and art history and archaeology of ancient Costa Rican societies. He is also Director of the Mesoamerica Cluster Program at UNC-CH. Marín received his PhD from the State University of New York at Albany in 2001, and is the author of various publications, including Reconstruction of the Proto-Ch’olan Demonstrative Pronouns, Deictic Enclitics, and Definite Articles and “A Test and Falsification of the ‘Classic Ch’oli’an’” in International Journal of American Linguistics.

Emily Tummons, Resident Director

Emily Tummons received a masters in Linguistics from Kansas University where she now teaches Kaqchikel Maya and Kaqckikel linguistics. In 2007, Tummons and her colleagues founded an NGO, Wuqu’ Kawoq, that works on development projects among Mayan communities in Guatemala. In addition to being fluent in Kaqchikel Maya, she has intermediate level knowledge of Tz’utujiil and K’ichee’ Maya and has been studying Yucatec Maya for nearly a year. She joined the Summer Yucatec Maya Institute in summer 2012.

Grant Armstrong, Curriculum Advisor

Assistant Professor of Spanish Linguistics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Armstrong earned his PhD in Spanish Linguistics from Georgetown University in 2011. His areas of specialization are morphology, syntax and semantics (the structure and interpretation of words and sentences) in Spanish and Yucatec Maya. An experienced Spanish, ESL, and linguistics instructor, Armstrong is also an alumnus of UNC-CH’s Yucatec Maya Summer Institute. He has published and presented on theoretical linguistics of both the Spanish and Maya languages, including “On Copular Sentences in Yucatec Maya” in Proceedings of CILLA IV (online) and “Understanding agreement in Yucatec Maya” in Georgetown Working Papers in Theoretical Linguistics.

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