Fwd: Re: [Aztlan] glyph decipherment.

John F. Schwaller schwallr at potsdam.edu
Fri Aug 11 14:49:32 UTC 2006

Here are two posts of interest to students of 
Nahuatl from our sister listserv, Aztlan

The initial question asked about resources for deciphering Nahua glyphs

>From: David Stuart <kawil at mac.com>
>Subject: Re: [Aztlan] glyph decipherment.
>Date: Thu, 10 Aug 2006 11:30:40 -0500
>One of the best overviews of the Nahua writing system(s) is an old
>classic by Henry Nicholson:
>1973 Phoneticism in the Late Pre-Hispanic Central Mexican Writing
>System.  In Mesoamerican Writing Systems, edited by Elizabeth P.
>Benson, pp. 1-46.  Dumbarton Oaks, Washington D.C.
>Nick's article is still very comprehensive and solid, and not really
>overshadowed by anything more recent, in my view.
>The Nahua system(s)  (there were probably several regional and
>temporal variants) deserve much more scholarly attention.  Aztec
>glyphs are assumed by many to be little more than simple pictographs
>therefore transparent, but they are far more phonetically based than
>is often realized.  Thelma Sullivan once told me that she thought
>Aztec glyphs needed a whole new systematic analysis, and I think she
>was right. One modern scholar who is doing very good work is my
>colleague Alfonso Lacadena, and I am sure there are others, too.
>- David Stuart

>From: "Jerry Offner" <ixtlil at earthlink.net>
>To: aztlan at lists.famsi.org
>Date: Thu, 10 Aug 2006 12:15:56 -0500
>It is a bit surprising that no one has mentioned 
>Marc Thouvenot's decades of work condensed into 
>the highly useful program CEN at this link:
>Marc has thorughly studied the content, meaning 
>and pronunciation of Nahua (Aztec) pictographs, 
>with an emphasis on the Texcocan area.  He has 
>designed and continously improved his programs 
>for studying them and Nahuatl.  The program  CEN 
>is free, large but easily downloaded and 
>installed, bug-free and enjoyable to use.  Good 
>quality photos of scarcely or poorly published 
>codices are part of the download, as can be seen 
>by examining the files and file structure after 
>the download.    Most directions are in French, 
>English and Spanish. (I should be able to help 
>anyone with difficulties getting the file 
>structure right on their computer in case they 
>find the site's directions difficult).   (There 
>is a lot more of interest to Mesoamericanists at this site).
>Marc's dissertation "Codex XOLOTL. Etude d'une 
>des composantes de son écriture : les glyphes. 
>Dictionnaire des éléments  constitutifs des glyphes"
>can also be downloaded for those who prefer a 
>more conventional presentation.   It is in 
>French, but its task is so detailed and 
>descriptive that it can be followed with minimal 
>work with a good French dictionary (on-line or paper).
>The only way to account for the general lack of 
>knowledge regarding his work is that he has not 
>produced a dead-tree coffee table work in 
>whatever language.   Given the nature of the 
>subject, his software approach is the current optimum method of presentation.
>Marc Thouvenot's work is indispensable if you 
>want to get serious about Nahua pictographic 
>writing. At the same time, beginners can obtain 
>attractive pictures and illustrations along with 
>information that can be accessed in greater or 
>lesser detail, as they require,
>Jerry Offner
>ixtlil at earthlink.net

John F. Schwaller
SUNY Potsdam
44 Pierrepont Ave.
Potsdam, NY  13676

315-267-2496 fax

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