Merit correction

Mark David Morris mdmorris at
Mon Jun 4 16:48:16 UTC 2001

Dear List,

I sent in my  translation of a letter from Francisco Loysaga to Miguel
Aparicio evidence supporting the idea that merit is conceived of as
suffering and reciprocal exchange (defined as a system social relations
control value more than the object itself).  A nagging doubt or error in
my first translation tosses that evidence out and leads to an explanation
of the somewhat complex solution I made of the statement "with much
tlacpactiliztli, neyolaliliztli tlacuapantiliztli next to your wife" where
Francisco Loysaga well wishes Miguel Aparicio on the Pascuas.  I
originally used "salutacin, fraternidad y convivencia;"  Luis Reyes,
however, reads this as a parallelism sandwich (my term) consisting of two
statements derived from words meaning "high" with an affective term for
meat, and suggested it compared to the English "all the best and much
happiness," or as I put in a revised Spanish translation, "con todo lo
mejor y con mucha alegria."  This has a lot of sense, and works a lot
better than my attempt to translate tlacuapan as being related to a
gathering for eating.   However, I think there might be more happening in
this phrase "tlacpactiliztli neyolaliliztli tlacuapantiliztli" in terms of
rhetorical design or impact.  I base that argument on the phrase's
structural context.  I think the more elaborate structural unit
represented in this
phrase compared to the surrounding more explicit noun and verb statements,
opens up some room to consider this tlacpactiliztli as related to the
tlacpachuili Loysaga seems to use to say "greet" in three other letters;
an example is "ycxitlantzinco yn siuapili Sa, Da. thomasa tohuey Nantzi
Moteoyotica Nesetilitzi yhu ticmotlacpachuililia Nochtintzin
ynitlachihualchichihuan yn Ds v. Mopilhuantzintzihua Dn. Berna Dn.
Mariano, Da. ygnacia, Doloretzi lusiatzi yhu yn ocsequinti; VG."
    It merits mention that tlacpactiliztli and tlacuapantiliztli are a
little rare in any case.  As far as I know Nahuatl grammar, Loysaga's
formation of tlacuapantilistli and tlacpactiliztli are only possible
through the verbalization of the locatives tlacpac (above) and tlacuapan
(high place) with the verbalizing suffix -ti, (to become) nominalized by
the -liztli suffix, as indeed seems to have happened here, though one
would not find many other examples of them I think.  Loysaga's expression
is probably a regional oral mode that may or may not still be
understandable or not to some of the Nahuatl speakers today in Tlaxcala
(my experience here is that a lot of the colonial social lexicon got
dropped between 1821 and today), but it does not, to my knowledge, appear
in published Nahuatl lexicons.  Thus, these possibly unregistered
verbalized forms of tlacpac Loysaga uses here suggests that tlacpac has
some other meaning than its usual literal meaning of "above", and used in
the translation by Luis Reyes.  This possible local variation (and there
are many in Tlaxcala) could indeed, then best be translated as
"salutacin;" however, given that it seems to work in a parallelism with
tlacuapan; that is questionable.  For the reader to weigh the sources,
Luis' preponderantly vaster knowledge of Nahuatl is a little offset by my
work with this particular writer.  I don't in anyway retract my general
statements about merit, but I think it's my responsibility to correct my
error given that I had presented a faulty translation in support of those
statements and given that groups like the Voz de Aztlan have openly
expressed interest in  using this list as a source of accurate

Mark Morris


La muerte tiene permiso a todo

MDM, PhD Candidate
Dept. of History, Indiana Univ.

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