Cross-variant communication

John Sullivan idiez at
Fri Nov 11 15:39:12 UTC 2011

Piyali notequixpoyohuan,
	Next week I’ll go to Mexico City and meet with administrators of the Mexican National Institute of Indigenous Languages to finish up the details regarding the founding of the Zacatecas State Institute of Indigenous Languages. This new organization will soon begin working with INALI, as well as other national and international institutions on a number of far-reaching language and culture revitalization projects. One of the specific goals of IDIEZ and the new Zacatecas State Institute will be to create a space in Zacatecas where native-speakers of all variants of Nahuatl can meet, both in person and virtually, and work together on teaching and research, revitalization projects, and basically talk about all problems affecting indigenous people. The inaugural activity of this project will take advantage of the week-long series of focus-group sessions that will be held in Zacatecas during the second week of December. These sessions are sponsored by Stephanie Wood’s NEH/NSF project, “An Online Nahuatl Lexical Database: Bridging Past, Present, and Future Speakers,” and will have native speakers discuss key concepts and words from Older (Classical) Nahuatl texts. The discussions will be recorded, and linguistic material will be harvested and loaded onto the project’s database ( Right now the participants are considering topics of their own interest that will be discussed in additional focus group sessions during the week. Only three rules/principles will govern the discussion process: 1. You must speak in Nahuatl; 2. You must respect others’ opinions; 3. There is no belief, topic or opinion that should prevent two people from sitting down and talking to each other. 
	If our goal of promoting cross-variant communication between Nahuas is to succeed, we will need to create a user’s manual; in other words, a practical little book (and companion website) for native speakers that will include a multi-variant list of frequently used words and phrases, with sound files for aid in pronunciation, as well as a comparative description of basic grammatical constructions for numerous variants. I would appreciate advise and tips regarding resources and current or previous projects of a similar nature.

John Sullivan, Ph.D.
Professor of Nahua language and culture
Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas
Zacatecas Institute of Teaching and Research in Ethnology
Tacuba 152, int. 43
Centro Histórico
Zacatecas, Zac. 98000
Work: +52 (492) 925-3415
Home: +52 (492) 768-6048
Mobile (Mexico): +52 1 (492) 103-0195
Mobile (US): (615) 649-2790
idiez at

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