Re:       Opinions Solicited

Amapohuani at AOL.COM Amapohuani at AOL.COM
Thu Jul 29 01:16:29 UTC 2004

Richley and esteemed listeros:

I offer my very personal opinion in the hope that you will return to your
original intent or, if possible and even better, have a three-column approach.

As some of the fine folks who subscribe to this list already know, Louise
Burkhart and I are working on a four-volume NAHUATL THEATER set (U of Oklahoma
Press, first volume due in a few months). Except for spacing of alphabetical
characters (which is, in my view, debatable in any case) so that others may more
readily understand our translation choices and facilitate the use of
dictionaries and grammars, Louise and I have tried to retain the original spacing,
characters, letter size ('case' seems quite an iffy term to use), varying
spellings, etc., of the original texts.


Very simply because we aim to provide as much as humanly possible, within the
limits imposed by our own strengths and weaknesses in understanding early
Nahuatl and the pluses and minuses of modern printing and typography, the
specifically and wonderfully NAHUA character of the texs.

Our entire four-volume NAHUATL THEATER set is dedicated to a true visionary
in the study of early Nahuas and Nahuatl, Fernando Horcasitas, whose EL TEATRO
NAHUATL   (1974) continues to be an inspiring example of pioneering
scholarship. Nonetheless, his versions of the seven plays contained in full
transcription in EL TEATRO NAHUATL change sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth and
nineteenth century idiosyncratic Nahuatl into radically standaridzed de-Nahuatlized
late twentieth century versions of same. I started my work on volume one by going
to the Library of Congress with a version of one of the plays already copied
out, in digital form and hard copy, from EL TEATRO NAHUATL. I was only halfway
through checking his version against the original and I had made over two
thousand (yes, 2,000) changes. I finally decided it was best to simply make new
transcriptions, then go through the exhaustive process of constantly comparing
and correcting them -- with Louise's invaluable help and advice -- rather than
try to 'fix up' the plays that some seemed considered 'good enough' [to be
honest, this is my feeling but perhaps I am wrong here].

All the 'bothersome' non-standardized features of actual early Nahuatl texts
are really -- IMHO -- clues to the cognitive and emotive landscapes of their
authors, betraying in their almost infinite variety not only a different way of
handling European-style written expresson but also something more than a
negative 'difference' from the original model, namely something positive,
something that was in and of itself a specifically Nahua way of expressing oneself in
early Nahuatl. Just in the area of historical linguistics alone (not a small
consideration among the few people actively working to publish such texts) a
reliably suggestive evocation of the original is justified.

I do not want anyone to take the above to imply a mean-spirited and
contemptuous way of looking at others who do things differently. You yourself suggested
the best of all possible worlds: original Nahuatl (as best as can be done), a
standardized Nahuatl version of the original (again, as best as can be done -
there is no single one 'correct' way to do it so one again has to make
certain choices and not make others), and an English translation.

I wish you the very best in your efforts. I strongly feel that you have been
given good advice, but your gut instincts are right too. Thank you bringing up
this issue on nahuat-l.

Ye ixquich.
Barry D. Sell

In a message dated 7/28/04 12:51:22 PM, RCRAPO at HASS.USU.EDU writes:

> I will be publishing an English translation of a sixteenth century Aztec
> history (relatively) soon and I have a major decision to make about the way I
> present the Nahuatl text. My original intent was to present the Nahuatl text
> in the two-colum (Nahuatl-English) format with the original spelling and
> punctuation, so that these features of the original manuscript would be available
> for study (for such purposes as identifying provenance and related things).
> Somewhere along the line, I let myself be convinced by a reviewer that
> regularizing the spelling to a modern orthography would make the text more useful to
> a broader range of students, and I did that. Now, I'm having second
> thoughts, particularly since the most recent reviewer has reiterated my original
> thinking and strongly recommended restoring the original spelling and
> punctuation. Since this was my original intent, I'd lean towards following that advice,
> but since Nahuatl research is *not* my primary area of expertise, I'd really
> like to hear what those of you who work in the area believe to be the better
> approach: a straight transcription of the original text or a modernized
> orthography for the Nahuatl column?
> Richley Crapo

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