Q’eqchi Interpreters and Translators: What You Need to Know

Need Q’eqchi interpreting services? This guide shares everything you need to know about finding the best Q’eqchi interpreters and translators.

Choosing the right interpreting service can seem complicated, but for rare and indigenous languages like Q’eqchi, it can feel especially overwhelming. Finding a qualified Q’eqchi interpreter or Q’eqchi translator is very different from finding an interpreter or translator for more common languages like Spanish or Portuguese. 

Not only are there fewer interpreters in general due to the rarity of the language, there are also fewer resources to help you find them. This intro guide shares everything you need to get started finding the right Q’eqchi interpreting service.

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In this article:

Fast Facts about Q’eqchi


    • Q’eqchi is a Mayan language spoken by the Q’eqchi’ people, an indigenous community native to Guatemala and Belize. The heartland of their traditional territory is known as El Petén, located in the Guatamalan highlands that border Belize.

    • There are an estimated 500,000 to 1 million speakers of Q’eqchi worldwide. The majority are located in their native lands of Guatemala and Belize, but smaller communities are present in Central, South, and North America due to recent migration.

    • The Q’eqchi language is a member of the Quichean (K’ichean) branch of Mayan languages spoken in the Easternmost parts of Mayan-speaking mesoamerica.
    • Q’eqchi has a variety of spellings, including Q’eqchí, Kekchi, Kekchí, Q’echi, Ketchi and Keqchi. It may also appear as Quecchi.



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The Q’eqchi Language and People

A map shows the location of native lands of Q'eqchi speaking peoples in Guatemala and Belize, where the majority of Q'eqchi interpreters and Q'eqchi translators live today.


The Q’eqchi people have a long and complex history in Central America. They are some of the first settled inhabitants of Central America, significantly predating the arrival of Spanish colonizers. Under Spanish colonial rule, Q’eqchi’ and other Mayan peoples experienced violence, displacement, and discrimination, including forced labor and land expropriations.

However, while many other Mayan languages went extinct during this time, Q’eqchi endured, largely due to its relative isolation in mountainous areas of Mayan-speaking territory. Today, it is one of the most widespread of the remaining Mayan languages. Q’eqchi’ also has the highest concentration of monolingual speakers across all of the Guatemalan Mayan language communities.


Recent Q’eqchi Emigration

To this day, Q’eqchi people have continued to experience long-lasting repercussions of Spanish colonial rule including poverty, discrimination, and marginalization. In Guatemala, Q’eqchi communities have been particularly affected by the country’s long civil war and by displacement resulting from military action and drug trafficking. They also face discrimination when it comes to accessing housing, education, health care and employment opportunities.

In Belize, Q’eqchi people are still denied basic rights like access to land and resources and the right to be heard in government. They are also subjected to discrimination by police forces, including racial profiling and excessive use of force. In spite of these trials, the Q’eqchi people continue to strive for equality and protection of their land and rights.


Q'eqchi women are stewards of the forests in their native lands.



Photo courtesy of Ya’axché Conservation Trust



In recent years, there has been a steady rise in emigration of Q’eqchi people in pursuit of safety, stability, and greater economic opportunity. Today, the Q’eqchi diaspora is spread all over the world, with the highest numbers found in Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the United States.

The community is mostly monolingual, which has presented unique challenges for immigration and refugee support. It has also led to an increased demand for Q’eqchi interpreters and Q’eqchi translators to bridge the gap between Spanish<>Q’eqchi and English<>Q’eqchi. Skilled interpreters and translators are needed to build trust with migrants, help navigate complex immigration processes, and ensure access to healthcare, legal and social services.


Why You Should Use Q’eqchi Interpreters


There are many situations in which using a Q’eqchi interpreter or Q’eqchi translator is necessary for compliance and risk mitigation, such as medical appointments, immigration procedures, legal consultations.

However, as a general rule, any time need to communicate with someone who speaks Q’eqchi, it’s crucial to use a qualified interpreter. The majority of Q’eqchi speakers do not speak Spanish. Moreover, the language is primarily oral with no standardized writing system. This makes using machine translation or dictionaries to try to bridge the gap both extremely difficult and highly risky.

In addition to offering vital communication services, Q’eqchi interpreters can provide many other benefits, including ensuring accuracy, reducing misunderstandings, and building a foundation of trust. By using professional Q’eqchi interpreters and Q’eqchi translators, you can also ensure that Q’eqchi speakers make their voices heard, which is especially important in immigration settings.


Technology For Interpreting Q’eqchi to English


The Jeenie mobile app provides Q'eqchi interpreters for communicating between an English or Spanish speaker and a Q'eqchi speaker.

Fortunately, technology is changing the way Q’eqchi to English and English to Q’eqchi interpreting is done. Video remote interpreting, possible through modern video conferencing technologies, is an increasingly popular alternative to in-person interpreting, and for good reason.

In remote interpreting, interpreters provide services via video conferencing, without being physically present (which can be nearly impossible in the case of rare and indigenous languages like Q’eqchi). Video remote interpreting platforms, especially those like Jeenie that have a mobile app, allow interpreters to work from anywhere in the world. More importantly, they enable those in need of interpreting to access an interpreter any time of day, right in the moment of need.


Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) has many advantages over traditional in-person interpreting, including:

    • Cost effective: No travel or lodging costs associated with remote interpreting

    • Convenient: Interpreters can work from anywhere in the world and people in need can get help wherever they are

    • More efficient: Faster and easier to bridge communication gaps between two cultures

    • Easier access: Easier to find native professional interpreters in any language, including rare and indigenous languages like Q’eqchi


Moreover, a VRI solution like Jeenie that skips call centers and operators through Direct-to-Interpreter (D2I) connections can be just as fast as machine translation. Using a qualified interpreter through a VRI or an OPI (Over the Phone) solution can also help people avoid the pitfalls of machine translation, such as:

    • Limited accuracy: Machine translation is often inaccurate or incomplete, especially in indigenous languages like Q’eqchi where there is a lack of source material to train the algorithms

    • Language nuances: Machines are poor at interpreting nuances, idioms, humor, and slang, which are essential components of communication

    • Cultural misunderstanding: There is a potential for cultural misunderstandings when relying solely on machine translation

    • Loss of human connection: Machines can’t replicate the personal connection between interpreters and those they’re helping, and personal connection is critical, especially in areas like healthcare and immigration where trust impacts the outcome of services provided


9 things to look for in a Q’eqchi Interpreting Service


So now that you know why you should use Q’eqchi interpreters to help you overcome a communication gap, what next?

You can start narrowing down the options by considering the type of interpreting you need. We already mentioned the advantages of remote interpreting over in-person interpreting, especially for Q’eqchi. What about modality? Will audio (OPI) suffice, or do you need video (VRI) too? Do you need to connect to interpreters 24/7, or are there set business hours?

A lot of what you should look for depends on your specific use case. However, there are a few general, but very important factors to consider when looking for Q’eqchi interpreters:


    1. Look for native speakers: Ensure that the service you choose offers native Q’eqchi speakers as interpreters and translators for maximum accuracy and cultural understanding.
    2. Interpreter certification or qualification: Make sure interpreters have the appropriate qualifications. However, keep in mind that certification may not be available in all language pairs, especially rare and indigenous languages.
    3. Cost efficiency: Look for competitive rates and packages that can help save money.
    4. High interpreter pay: While you’re looking at rates, look at interpreter pay relative to the market average, too. If interpreters are earning significantly less than the market average, it means the company is sacrificing quality in favor of higher profit margins.
    5. Professionalism: Make sure the interpreting service has solid quality assurance protocols, as well as clear customer service pathways.
    6. Technology: Look for services that leverage the most modern technology available to connect you to interpreters as quickly as possible, without operators or call centers.
    7. Service availability: Look for services that have the language pair that you need available in the hours you’ll need interpreting.
    8. Privacy and security: Ensure the service uses secure systems and has data security protocols in place to protect client information. This is especially important in the case of healthcare where HIPAA compliance is required.
    9. Reputation: Ask for reviews from customers in your industry to gauge the service provider’s reputation.





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How Much Do Q’eqchi Interpreters Cost?


Because the cost of Q’eqchi interpreters can vary significantly depending on the modality used, it is important to consider the type of service needed and budget accordingly. In-person interpreting services are the most expensive because the hiring organization is usually responsible for covering the cost of interpreter travel and lodging, if applicable. On the other hand, phone and video interpretation services provide more affordable options.

Current market rates for Q’eqchi interpreting look something like the following:

    • In-Person Q’eqchi Interpreting: Ranges from about $50 – $200 per hour

    • Telephonic Q’eqchi Interpreting: Typically ranges from $3.00 to $5.00 per minute
    • Video Q’eqchi Interpreting: Usually costs between $4.00 and $6.00 per minute


Get a Q’eqchi Interpreter


In summary, finding the right interpreter service requires careful consideration of your use case and your budget to arrive at the right pricing fit. However, you should never compromise on factors like interpreter qualifications, professional standards, technology, privacy and security measures, and reputation. 

By keeping these factors in mind when looking for Q’eqchi interpreters, you can be sure to find the best quality service possible at a competitive price. With the right interpreter or translator, your communication with Q’eqchi speakers will be more productive and effective!


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