ELL: Fw: Nahuatl status

Leonel Hermida mop93410 at MAIL.TELEPAC.PT
Fri Dec 10 14:12:24 UTC 1999


Please allow me to post here a copy of my own posting to another 'list',
dated past December 6th. (References below). As the status of the
Nahuatl [Aztec] language seems to be worse than I foresaw, I thought it
would fit well in this 'list' too.

Thank you for your attention.


-----Original Message-----
From: Leonel Hermida <mop93410 at mail.telepac.pt>
To: Multiple recipients of list <nahuat-l at server.umt.edu>
Date: Monday, December 06, 1999 12:45 PM
Subject: Nahuatl status

>This will perhaps be considered "deja vu", but I've never seen it discussed
>before and would like to know: what is the status of 'Nahuatl' in Mexico
>first and in the world today?
>Please forgive me if I use some material from a book I once came across
>(and have read 3 or 4 times since), namely Bernard Comrie's "The
>languages of the Soviet Union", C.U.P. 1981.
>1." At one end of the scale, we have languages that are spoken by very
>small population groups" (let us say by less than 10,000 people)," that have
>no written form, and are normally spoken by people who are bilingual
>in one of the larger languages".
>2. "Secondly, there are languages that have a written form and are used
>to a very limited extent in publication, but are not used as media of
>education. In many instances this is a transitional stage in the phasing
>out of a written language, since clearly a written language will soon
>cease to have an audience if its speakers are not taught how to read it."
>One such language is Yiddish in the USSR, another being Kurdish.
>3. "The third class in this functional classification is where a language
>is used quite extensively in publication (e.g. children's books, basic
>political litterature, newspapers, short stories, even novels), and is
>also used as the medium of instruction in the first few grades of school,
>after which instruction shifts to another language (though the native
>language may still be taught as a school subject)". An example is
>Chukchi, spoken in East Siberia...
>4. "Fourthly, there are languages which are used in a wide range of
>publications, including some technical subjects, and are used as media
>of education throughout the school system (though often not in further
>education)". Examples are Chechen, Abkhaz, Komi, ...
>5. Fifthly, there are languages which, in addition to having the above
>functions, are also used as educational media in universities, and are
>effectively used as co-government languages in the internal adminis-
>tration of the corresponding administrative area.
>6. Finally only Russian, etc. etc. (Here one should say only Spanish,etc.
>Now: what happens with Nahuatl? Is instruction provided in the so-called
>'classical form' (hope Richard will not scold on this), or otherwise?
>What are the numbers? How far is Nahuatl used in the press? How
>does it compare with for example Basque and Catalan in Spain today?
>Is there an Academy of the Nahuatl Language? What is the situation
>now and which are the prospects as to the future?
>I shall not give up studying 'Cassical Nahuatl'  whatever the actual
>situation of the language, but I would like to learn more about the facts
>of yesterday and today...
>Thank you.
>Best regards,

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