1st person honorifics?

Amapohuani at aol.com Amapohuani at aol.com
Fri Jun 2 18:35:49 UTC 2000


Re first person honorifics. The last posting is included at the end of this 

The citation is from one of the pages just preliminary to page one of fray 
Juan de Gaona's COLLOQVIOS DE la paz, y tranquilidad Christiana, en lengua 
Mexicana (1582, Pedro Ocharte). Fray Miguel de Zarate prepared this edition 
of his deceased colleague.  Zarate (under EXAMEN) twice indicates that he 
"corrected" the original, acting under the orders of the then-provincial of 
the Provincia del Santa Evangelio. Just before page one is a page that begins 
'COLLOQVIOS DE la paz" [etc.] that includes the information that they are 
"agora nueuamente corregidos, y anadidos, y puesta auctoridades, y citados 
los lugares por el muy. R. Padre Fray Miguel de carate" etc. [I leave out 
special characters since they do not go well over cyberspace.] What was cited 
is essentially a loose translation from the Spanish of this page to the 
Nahuatl of the next page where the citation is taken from.

This is standard Nahuatl for the subject matter and not more or less 
honorific than anything else you might encounter in similar texts, or even in 
those done by Nahuas for their own purposes; also see how Chimalpahin writes 
about various clerics. A Nahua or a cleric could have written it - literally, 
since Nahuas helped many times with texts (published or manuscript) and the 
author of record was more of a supervisor than the actual writer per se. In 
this case (see prologue in fray Juan Baptista's sermonario of 1606) we know 
that the trilingual (Latin/Nahuatl/Spanish) Nahua, Hernando de Ribas, who 
helped Molina with his grammar and dictionary, also apparently  helped Gaona 
with this work (called by Baptista "Dialogos" if I am not mistaken). 
Baptista's own extensive corpus was entirely co-authored by Augustin de la 
Fuente, who was also the "corrector de lengua" of fray Juan de Mijanos', OSA, 

In any case this is exactly how people wrote about themselves in such 
situations - not in the first person, but as if they were writing about 
someone else [and it may have been Ribas or some other Nahua who literally 
wrote the cited passage]. It would be an incompetent friar, and an even more 
incompetent Nahua teacher and aide of theirs, who would let any cleric write 
"nehuatzin" or the like. Literally using first-person honorifics in the first 
person would have made any Nahua aide/teacher shudder, and marked the friar 
as lingustically impaired. This brings to mind the passage in the BANCROFT 
DIALOGUES where the priest replies in a flat non-honorific Nahuatl to a 
query, and to Book 12 of the FLORENTINE CODEX where Cortes (through his 
interpreter) speaks in the same way - in a traditional Nahua context, real 
gaffes and marks (from a Nahua-centric point of view) of a complete barbarian 
[with apologies to any who feel I am slamming the barbarians too much].

In general, my take on the friars/clerics who used Nahuatl is that they were 
pretty careful about their use of honorific/reverential forms, perhaps too 
much so at times.

Ye ixquich.
Barry D. Sell  

In a message dated 6/2/00 8:24:45 AM, tezozomoc at hotmail.com writes:

<< The nahuatl people did not use it but the friars did certainly pump 
themselves up.....

Here is a piece from Fray Juan Gaona's peace and tranquility:

Fray Ioa: de Gaona, sant
Francisco teopixqui, vei teotlatol-
matini.  Auh quinaxcan, occeppa
Yancuican oquimopatili, oquimoc
xitoquili, in cenca mauiztililoni to
tlazotatzin Fray Miguel de zasare
vei teotlatolmatini, yuan Comissa
rio gn~al itechpa in santa cruzada,

>From: "Ehecatecolotl" <fjgs at servidor.unam.mx>
>Reply-To: nahuat-l at server2.umt.edu
>To: <nahuat-l at server2.umt.edu>
>Subject: 1st person honorifics?
>Date: Thu, 1 Jun 2000 21:07:10 -0600
> > The books say that using honorifics of oneself in Nahuatl is not done
> > it would seem too pompous. But are there any examples of it found in the
> > literature. perhaps to achieve a special effect? (Chinese has an 
> > pronoun pronounced "ching", written by a special character, which could 
> > fairly translated as {nehhua:tzin}; only the Emperor was allowed to use
>I understand the honorific used for oneĀ“s self is acceptable if the person
>is being condescendent to him/herself, conveying the meaning of "poor me,
>incapable of such or such deed", therefore, the situation mentioned by
>Francestzin applies just fine or when the person is ill, etc. >>

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