Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Mayan Hieroglyphs VI

It's been a few years, now, since I last drew Mayan hieroglyphs [1], but now that we have a fourth member of our family [2] it's time to draw another. A quick glance at the archives will show that my posting frequency has been in decline. So even though Lincoln was born three weeks ago, it's taken me a while to actually post about it. I finished the drawing for this post several days ago, but I'm just now posting the description.

The surname Lincoln is taken from the name of a city in England and thus properly means "inhabitant of the city Lincoln".[3] The name of the city is derived from the Brythonic term lindon, which means "the pool" and probably refers to Brayford Pool. When the Romans conquered this part of England in AD 48, they named it Lindum Colonia, which was shortened to Lincylene in Old English and eventually to Lincoln.[4] So the name Lincoln roughly means "inhabitant of the colony by the pool."

Lincoln's middle name, Jordan, comes from the river in Israel that connects the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea.[5] The River Jordan is the site of many events in the Bible, including the baptism of Jesus Christ (Mt. 3:13; Mk. 1:9; Lk. 3:21, 4:1; Jn. 1:29–36). The Hebrew term is יַרְדֵּן Yarden ("the descending [river]" or "the flowing [river]"), which is derived from the Hebrew root יָרַד yaraḏ ("to flow down" or "to descend").[6]

The Mayan word for "pool" is nab' (spelled nab', na-b'i, nah-b'i).[7] I used T4 for the na syllable. I used this in Lilli's name because she was our firstborn; I can use it for Lincoln, too, because he's our first son (and he's the first boy grandbaby on my side of the family). For the b'i syllable I chose T1029 because 1. it is a stylized snake (which is very boyish) and 2. because the syllable b'a by itself also means "road", which can be somewhat analagous to a flowing river. The Mayan–English dictionary didn't have a translation for the word "colony" (or "town", "village", etc.), so I chose the toponymic suffix -al/-il (spelled -al, -la, -il, or -li). By itself the syllable al also means "child of (so-and-so)." I chose T83 since that syllable (li-) actually appears in Lincoln's name.[8]

The Mayan word for "descend" is em- (spelled 'em-mi, 'e-mi-). For the em- syllable, I chose T741v because it looks like a turtle head (i.e. also boyish) and because it looks like it's sleeping, which Lincoln still does a lot of. For the mi syllable I chose T173. The word for "river" is ha' (spelled ha', ha'-'a, or 'a).[9] I chose T501v for ha' and T238 (which has the additional meaning of "he") for 'a.

And this is the final result:

The meaning would be "[inhabitant of] the place by the pool and the descending river"—my little man![10]


[1] Others can be seen at Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, and Part V.

[2] See my post Unexpected Delivery II.

[3] See

[4] See, England.

[5] See

[6] See

[7] I also used the term nab' in Lilli's Mayan hieroglyph.
   The Mayan–English dictionary I'm using is available at Note that it's a .pdf.
   Remember that I'm using John Montgomery's drawings, which are available here. This link includes both a syllabary (where you can see the different syllable hieroglyphs) and a dictionary (where you can see actual words constructed using hieroglyphs).
     You can also find overlapping, but non-identical sets of Mayan hieroglyphi in this .pdf, in this .pdf, or at this website (scroll down to Step 3 and follow the links).

[8] That symbol also appears in Leann's, Lillian's, and my hieroglyphs.

[9] The Mayan–English dictionary simply translates this word as "water", but I felt comfortable using this for the more specific term "river" based on the same term as it is used in surviving languages related to Classic Mayan: (Ch'ol–Spanish) and complete.pdf (K'iche'–English). Note that both of these dictionaries have the word transcribed as ja' because they use the letter j to represent the sound /x/ (i.e. the sound made by the ch in the Scottish word loch and the German surname Bach).

[10] This is appropriate since one of Madison's nicknames is "The City of Four Lakes" due to the proximity of four: Lake Kegonsa ("First Lake"), Lake Waubesa ("Second Lake"), Lake Monona ("Third Lake"), and Lake Mendota ("Fourth Lake"). The capitol building is on the isthmus between Lakes Monona and Mendota. All four lakes are connected by the Yahara River. (Some also include a fifth smaller lake, Lake Wingra.) See this image and this article.

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