In sharp contrast to other Mayan linguistic communities where the indigenous language is on a path to extinction, Q’eqchi’ is a thriving language. Q’eqchi’ is without a doubt the most rapidly expanding indigenous language in the Americas (Romero, 2012). Consider, for example:
- There are more than 1 million speakers; this places Q’eqchi’ 2nd among all 30 living Mayan languages (CODISRA, 2010).
- The number of native speakers has more than doubled in the last 25 years.
- The current geographic footprint of the Q’eqchi’ linguistic community (QLC) covers as much area as all other Guatemala Mayan groups combined.
- The area encompassed by the QLC is expanding within Guatemala, and includes a significant number of speakers in southern Belize and Mexico and El Salvador as well.
- Q’eqchi’ has the highest proportion of monolingual speakers in all Guatemalan Mayan linguistic communities.
- Q’eqchi’ has the highest rate of literacy among all Guatemalan Mayan linguistic communities. Reported at 10.3% in 2010, but still three times greater than K’iche’, the next closest Mayan language (CODISRA, 2010).
- Q’eqchi’ is culturally and linguistically assimilative, with a word stock reflecting absorption of words and concepts from other Mayan languages—both living and extinct. Q’eqchi’ has a long history of assimilating other groups (indigenous and European) into its linguistic community.
- Since 1996, a number of native Q’eqchi’ speakers have trained as professional linguists and published a large and growing body of professional descriptive and didactic linguistic resources.
- The language is in vigorous use, with standardization and literature being sustained through a widespread system of institutionally supported education (Lewis, 2014).