nahuatl.info for nahuatl info?
mmccaffe at indiana.edu
Mon Jan 6 14:46:43 UTC 2003
On Mon, 6 Jan 2003, Matthew Montchalin wrote:
> On Mon, 6 Jan 2003, r. joe campbell wrote:
> | But I *did* have to face the difference in orthography -- Molina didn't
> |use my 'k w kw s ts...etc.' -- he did a natural and common thing -- he
> |simply adapted his Spanish spelling system (ignoring long vowels and
> |glottal stops),
> Perhaps you will explain why adopting the Spanish spelling system strikes
> you as a natural and common thing?
I can't speak for Joe or anyone, but from my experience it's very *useful*
to have the Spanish spelling system under your belt as it opens up a
universe of dictionaries, grammars and texts. It's the perfect key.
In my Algonquian work I use strictly IPA symbols. It's good to know your
way around different orthographies. In early historic North America the
Jesuit and Recollect missionaries used a digraph that looks a lot like the
number 8 to represent a whole host of somewhat related sounds that
occurred in the native languages. For example, in the recordings of the
Miami-Illinois language, in word-initial position, this orthographic
symbol can represent /w-/, sometimes /o:w-/ before a vowel, and /o-/ ~
/u-/ before a consonant. In intervocalic position it stands for /-w-/,
sometimes /-o(:)w-/. Between consonants that are not followed by /w/ and a
following vowel it stands for either /o(:)w/ - ~ /u(:)-/. When it
appears between two consonants,the glyph represents /-o(:)-/ ~ /-u(:)-/.
And in word-final position, 8 typically represents /-o(:)/ ~ /-u(:)/.
( the sign : = vowel length )
Depending on what you're doing and what you want, knowing other
orthographies can be very useful.
> |as did Sahagun with the "Florentine Codex" (with considerably more
> |irregularity). But it was easy to read and I soon found myself writing
> |with 'qu' instead of 'k'.
> For those of us with little or no exposure to Spanish's orthography,
> I am not so sure it will be an 'easy' thing to chin up and plod
I teach Nahuatl. It takes even the slowest learners about two minutes to
learn the old Spanish orthography. I had a woman in my class last semester
who did not have any language "talent". But she had a desire to learn
Nahuatl since some of her ancestors had spoken it. She learned the
orthography in a day. It's basically straight forward "continental"
spelling with a few changes. Very simple to learn. No biggy/
> | When I moved to 'qu', I put myself in touch with a large body of
> |material which has been recorded since the arrival of the Spaniards.
> This seems to be the most telling argument in favor of Spanish's
> orthography. And you seem to be suggesting that the body of material
> is so vast that it will never be regularized with the 'k' and 'kw'
Ah. Joe does make this point. Ok.
Right, Matthew. It's so huge nobody will ever *want* to sit down and
piddle with the orthography. What it boils down to is this: you gotta know
both the old and the modern to be a successful learner of the entire
chronological spectrum of Nahuatl.
> |If I had stuck with 'k', all that rich body of text would look
> |"quaint" to me.
> Are you saying it is impractical - if not impossible - to write a
> computer program to translate the spellings from Nahuatl to Nawatl?
Since I'm not a computer maven, I'll bow out on this one. I imagine you
could, but why? It's not a perfect analogy-- and I can certain
understand, say, translating Shakespeare into 21st century Bronx English,
but don't you think it's also nice to have good old Wm. around as well to
> | If I were designing materials that I hoped would be helpful to
> |Spanish speakers (some of them possible monolingual), I would use
> |the 'qu' (and the spelling that goes with it) in order to reduce
> |impediments in learning the important things.
> But you are presupposing a Spanish-speaking audience to receive
> your preferred spelling system. If you start your argument with
> a chip on your shoulder, it is that much harder to put some other
> chip there.
Well, now I can speak for Joe. There ain't no chip. So, your point is
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