Newbie questions.

Alexander Wallace awallace at
Fri Jan 17 00:21:04 UTC 2003

I want to thank you here and all others (publicly since i may have done it
privately not realizing it) that responded to my questios, and in advance to
those who will. You form a great list and I received very good advice from
all of you. Everybody's insight in the matter seems pretty homogeneous with a
few variants here and there, like.  And you pretty much told me what I wanted
to hear :)

Thanks a lot again! I'm sure I'll be asking y'all a lot of questions!


On Thursday 16 January 2003 15:44, r. joe campbell wrote:
> Alejandrohtzin,
>    I thought that I'd pass along to you my "parecer" -- and some of my
> prejudices.  On what I think is your main point, there will be a
> difference of opinion if people take your question in a not totally
> literal way.
>    First, everyone would agree on the fact that "classical" Nahuatl is no
> longer spoken, in the same sense that 16th century Mexican Spanish, 12th
> century Iberian Spanish, and 18th century American English are no longer
> spoken.
>    Second, is modern Nahuatl very much like "classical" Nahuatl?  Since
> most towns differ in their speech from other towns, the answer is gray,
> rather than black and white.  A relatively complete answer on this would
> require some commentary from many silent members of the list, but on the
> basis on my contact with several dialects, there are some that are
> amazingly (for me) close to "classical" and others that differ
> considerably.
>    Tepoztla'n, Morelos (back in the 60s) seemed fairly close to
> "classical", but the "line" of speaker/non-speaker has moved since then.
> Now the youngest Nahuatl speaker that I know of there is 70 and most
> people who really speak it are considerably older than him.  Another close
> match is San Miguel Canoa, Puebla.
>    Dialects that differ greatly from "classical" are, among others,
> Po'maro, Michoacan (one characteristic: has /l/ for /tl/), and San
> Agusti'n Oapan, Guerrero.
>    The point that I am afraid that some people might disagree with is how
> worthwhile your study of "classical" would be for the purpose of
> communicating with people who speak modern dialects.  I believe that
> studying "classical" Nahuatl is a valuable investment for various reasons.
>  1. The materials available to you in "classical" Nahuatl are extensive.
> In vocabulary, you have Molina's and Karttunen's dictionaries (not joint
> ones -- each did his or her own); in grammar, you have Carochi and
> Andrews; and for practice in reading text, you have (just as a starting
> point) Sahagun's 12 volume commentary done in the 16th century and
> translated into English facing by Dibble and Anderson in the 20th.
> In contrast, there is no modern dialect that offers you even a small
> percentage of this coverage.  (((My wife, reading over my shoulder,
> insists that I add: "As an intro to "classical", you also have Campbell
> and Karttunen, _Foundation Course in Nahuatl Grammar." -- which was
> intended for *real* beginners.)))
>  2. "Help" that you derive in going from one dialect to another:  when you
> go from the study of "classical" to any modern dialect, you will feel the
> constant support of familiar vocabulary and derivational suffixes.  Of
> course, there are some differences, since languages do change, but the
> degree of conservatism is comforting.  On the other hand, if you started
> with a "further-out" modern dialect, going to another dialect would
> present more difficulties.  I think of it with the "hub and spoke"
> metaphor: if you start at the hub, each spoke is immediately related to
> what you know, but if you start "way out there" on any arbitrary spoke,
> who knows how much that spoke is going to contribute your learning the
> next one?
> May your ohtli be chipahuac and not alactic,
> Joe

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