Lacandon is a Mayan language spoken by approximately 1200 Lacandon people in the state of Chiapas in Mexico. Native Lacandon speakers refer to their language as Jach t’aan or Hach t’an. A portion of the Lacandon people also speak Tzeltal, Chol, and Spanish.
The Lacandones are a Mayan people and the descendents of “Lacandon” fugitives who fled from the Guatemala Petén and the Yucatan peninsula in the later 18th and early 19th centuries. They constitute two groups named according to their present geographic location.
The northern Lacandones are located northwest of the Usumacinta River, close to the Mayan ruins of Palenque, in Chiapas.
The southern Lacandones are located southeast of the northern Lacandon territory, close to the ruins of Bonampak. They share similar histories, cultural patterns and language, yet they are ethnically distinct.
The Lacandon language is far closer than its sister languages — Itzáj, Mopán, and Yucatec– to the original Classic Maya, because the Lacandones were not subjected to centuries of political, cultural, religious, or linguistic domination by either the Colonial Spaniards or the Mexican State.
Lacandon belongs to the Yucatecan family of Mayan languages, and it is one of the least known of the Middle American languages. Although considered by linguistics to be mutually intelligible, each Lacandon group considers the other’s speech to be deficient, and at times, unintelligible.