Newbie questions

Ricardo J. Salvador salvador at
Mon Jan 20 05:09:40 UTC 2003

On Thursday, January 16, 2003, at 06:21  PM, Alexander Wallace wrote:

> 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 :)


I wanted to add a few more comments in response to your original
question, since I think I misread how recently you have joined the list
and therefore how much of the information commonly exchanged here you
may have caught.

First, if you're interested in an intensive introduction to Classical
Nahuatl, you may be interested in a month-long course organized by John
Sullivan at the University of Zacatecas. The course is being taught
right now (the month of January), but I imagine that if it is
successful the UZ may continue to offer it on a recurring basis. You
can interact directly with Dr. Sullivan about this, as he is a member
of this list. The course is based on Lockhart's "Nahuatl as it is
Written" and on Molina's dictionary. The main features of the course
are daily work on translation of classical texts and a 5-day home-stay
in a Huastecan Nahuatl village in San Luis PotosĂ­. This year's tuition
is $1,500 for one month, plus a modest lodging fee. You can get more
details about the course at the UZ's IDIEZ page:

You should also know that because your question is a common one, we
keep a web page listing resources for learning Nahuatl (dictionaries,
grammars, texts and courses.) I've just updated that page today with
information about the course above and a few other fresh links. You can
consult the page through this mailing list's home page:

or directly, at:

Addenda regarding responses you received from others:

Joe Campbell offered a list of excellent scholarly resources to support
learning of Classical Nahuatl. I wanted to point out that my lone
suggestion of "Llave del Nahuatl" was made on the basis of my
assumption that you are not a linguist and because you mentioned that
you are a native Spanish speaker. That was my situation when as a
teenager I ran into Garibay Kintana's work. Growing up in the Puebla
valley I had casually picked up some Nahuatl in ostensive fashion, but
I was incompetent in actual conversational settings. When I looked for
ways to systematize my budding knowledge of Nahuatl I attempted to
digest a few of the materials in the formal "linguistic cannon," but
was incompetent to understand the work of specialists. That was when I
discovered "Llave del Nahuatl," while browsing one fine day in the
PorrĂșa bookstore in downtown Mexico City. I found the approach readily
accessible and calibrated to provide just the right entry point for an
interested but non-technical learner. So, that explains my bias ;-). If
I assumed incorrectly and you are in fact a linguist then I think the
materials recommended by Joe will be of immediate use to you (referring
directly to Andrews and the Dibble and Anderson commentaries.)

AND, I EARNESTLY recommend the Campbell and Karttunen Foundation
Course, which Joe's modesty almost prevented him from listing. I can
say the same thing for it that I have for "Llave del Nahuatl." It is
accessible and methodical and is an excellent entry point to the

Lastly, Frances Karttunen and Juergen Stowasser have pointed you toward
the Hills and Hills "Speaking Mexicano." I again have a personal bias,
since this book documents a study based in the very region where I was
first exposed to Nahuatl. With that obligation to disclosure out of the
way, I think this book is one of the best ways to understand the
present state of the language. The reason is that, in addition to a
linguistic analysis and interpretation of contemporary Nahuatl uses,
the book provides excellent context by starting with a historical and
cultural overview of the area of the study, and that summary is about
the best I've seen (to understand the present uses of any language, it
is important to understand the forces that have molded it). Just to
pique your curiosity a bit, the actual analysis is of the way that
Mexicano is used in various communities of the region to signify status
or prestige.

Ricardo J. Salvador          Voice: 515.294.9595
1126 Agronomy Hall         Telefax: 515.294.8146
Iowa State University        e-mail: salvador at
Ames, IA 50011-1010       WWW:

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