Spelling “Trouble” in Mayan

by Translation Guy on December 9, 2009

On December 20, 2012, it’s all over ― the bak’tun, that is, the longest measure of time in the Mayan calendar. The Maya noted important dates using the Long Count, a 5,125-year cycle of 13 bak’tuns, each about 394 years long.

And if you’ve seen the trailers for “2012,” you know this is definitely bad news, as in end-of-the-world bad news. There are hundreds of books devoted to 2012, and millions of web sites, depending on what combination of “2012” and “doomsday” you type into Google.

Now NASA has announced that it isn’t the end of the world, but then they also claim to have landed a man on the moon ;-). However, others, including contemporary Mayan shamans, agree with this assertion, so it looks like Doomsday has been postponed yet again.

Mayan time was cyclic and experts say there is no evidence that the Maya thought anything special would happen when the odometer rolled over on this Long Count in 2012. There are references in Mayan inscriptions to dates both before the beginning and after the ending of the present Long Count, they say, just as your next birthday and April 15 loom beyond New Year’s Eve on next year’s calendar.

Whether the world ends or not, you’ve got to dig those Mayan glyphs. They are the only modeled, 3-D script around, and each individual scribe had his own “fist,” inscribing characters in his own unique and sometimes playful way, so the variety of glyph styles is endless. The big breakthrough in reading Mayan came when researchers realized that these scribes could never resist a pun when given hammer and chisel.

And the Long Count calendar itself is an amazing take on time, wheels within wheels, as the gods of the days turn by tun and k’tun in eccentric gearings. At the NYT they’ve posted a beautiful interactive graphic that will allow you to pick a date and see how it is written in Mayan. Very cool ― and useful for getting on the same page with ancient Mayan priest-kings (you do not want to blow an appointment with these guys, or next thing you know you’ll be handed your still-beating heart on a jade platter!).

Some months ago, NOVA did a special on cracking the Mayan code, which took a long list of brilliant scholars about 500 years to decode after the first Bishop of the Yucatán burned every Mayan book he could find. Great website with more interactive graphics.


  1. Monica says:

    Okay I know this has been asked thousands of times but It’s really anoyying but I can’t help it!!! If all those historic people say its going to happen It probaly will right? In the other predicted doom days no one from the past predicted it did they? The mayans,The I ching,Einstien,scientists,the civil, They were right about other things and now im scared!! There’s so much of that ‘evidence’!

    And also Do you think in the LHC experiment we’ll discover something new? How could a human make that crop circle?? AHHHH!

  2. Sweetie, Doomsday predictions have always failed to come true, always. Take today for instance, the LHC (Large Hadron Accelerator) was supposed to have created a Black Hole that was going to swallow up not just the Earth but the entire Universe. What happened? Nothing happened.

    The people who built the Meso-American Calendar failed to predict their own end. Why would anyone believe that they successed in predicting our own end? The reason people make up scare-stories connecting the end of this calendar (on Dec. 21, 2012) is because they are ignorant and like to start scare-stories. The calendar comes to an end on this day because that is as far along as they got in their calendar-making before they had to head for the hills. Remember, they were chipping away at stone and not computer-generating their calendar. They quit working on it when one of two things happened:

    1. They were overrun by enemies; or 2. They were overtaken by plague or some other natural disaster. In any case they failed to predict their own end way before 2012, a far more important event than anything that could happen in the 21st. Cenutry.

    The LHC experiment may or not find out what happened immediately after the so-called: Big Bang. In any case it is not going to create a black hole because there is not enough mass in our solar system to create a black hole. Micro black only exist in theory and a particle accelerator capable of creating even a mini black hole would have to be light years in length.

    Please don’t let the doom-sayers take away your peace of mind.

  3. TheBleeder says:

    Well the Mayaans were right about some things…but they also believed that gods were moving the sun and giving them rain and stuff. And all those other people weren’t right about EVERYTHING.

  4. datoneer says:

    Best post I have read in a loooong time, awesome Ken!

  5. Lioric says:

    It would seem we are being warned about something catastrophic coming our way. Whoever passed down that sophisticated astronomical information to the ancient Maya Civilization deeply care about humanity and wish for us to survive a coming crises

  6. Elkcoc says:

    Anyone else have a feeling we should stop getting too technology advanced?

  7. orDian says:

    Today, they seem to be trying to warn us too. Eye witnesses say they saw some form of light energy creating a crop circle, so at least some of them are not hoaxes.

  8. vinylram says:

    You’re all a bunch of QUACKS, we are fine and probably alone in this universe anyway!

  9. lEO_rETRo says:

    I believe what the bible says and it says not even the lord jesus knows only god knows when the end will come

  10. guyver47 says:

    relax, 2012 doomsday is just another religious hoax.

  11. xxxxxx says:

    i didnt believe in y2k so why should i believe in 2012.

  12. im pretty open minded. but no i honestly dont. i believe the reason the mayans stopped at 2012 was because they died. so they never finished the calender

  13. Those who say that they do are full of crap, because they’re ot going to stop paying their credit cards 6 months prior.

  14. Anonymusius says:

    the film looks interesting

  15. it so lame, the world is not going to make it to 2500 although

  16. 11623466 says:

    Sure something could happen, but if it was really supposed to be a big deal, we would be getting a lot more warning.

  17. BeatenBlood says:

    Mayans said that on Dec. 21 2012 our sun will be passing in to what they called the “Dark Rift”. Modern day science proves that our sun will be passing in to a supposed “super massive” black hole on that exact date.

  18. Corpsearella says:

    Check out what the Sumerian’s had to say. It is well worth your time..

  19. ctgPi says:

    I’m scared!

  20. sremn says:

    it will come again

  21. Survival group against God?? LOL. Good luck with that. Truth is, no one knows the exact time this will happen except the man upstairs, however, I firmly believe that there are people placed here by God that post the warning signs and it’s up to you to take heed.
    doomsday 2012
    – some truth about 2012

  22. A friend of mine mentioned 2012 last night to me and it’s the first I heard about it so I jumped on here out of curiosity. I think it’s kind of sick and sounds like a bunch of skeptical jargon.
    I choose to live every day like it is the last because let’s be real, WHO THE HELL KNOWS what is going to happen or when it’s your time to go on. The past is history, the future is a mystery and now is a gift, thats why it’s called the present. It’s not healthy to sit around and trip out about when you will die. Stop wasting your time you have now.
    mayan calendar 2012
    – some truth about 2012

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