Is It "Maya" or "Mayan"
Just who built all those pyramids, anyway?

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When to Say Maya vs Mayan

Who were these people: The “Maya” or The “Mayans?”

Maya vs Mayan is a language problem that almost matches the various ways of saying “Caribbean,” but that’s another discussion.

Maya seems to be the correct term and here’s why:

Originally, the word Maya was used to refer to the Yucatec language exclusively (“Yucatec Maya”) and not to any particular people or culture.  The term Mayan came along later to refer to the family of languages including Yucatec.

Technicall, Mayan should refer only to the languages in Mexico, Guatamala and Central America, and those languages are spoken by the Maya people.

Which also means these are the other proper terms that should be used:

Maya civilization
Maya architecture
Maya religion
Maya mythology
Maya society
Maya writing

However, you can expect to hear many guides use the words incorrectly because to most people whether it's Maya vs Mayan is not a big deal.

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