The Unifying Aspects of Cultures


Standard Variations and Conceptions of Language in Various Language Cultures

José Antonio Flores Farfán (Ciesas-México)
Standard Variations and Language Conceptions in Mesoamerican Languages: The case of Nahuatl. / Standard Variationen und Sprachkonzeptionen in Mesoamerikanischen Sprachen. Der Fall des Nahuatl

This paper will provide a general account of various contexts in which the question posed by the Congress can be elaborated, with special reference to selected illustrations of different language varieties in the mayor Mesoamerican language of Mexico, Nahuatl For this aim, a series of bilingual materials stemming from different settings will be provided, in order to reconstruct the systematic constraints that guide the production of actual discourse which in turn derive from different ideological matrices. The contexts from which the materials will be presented include natural occurring conversations as well as elicited data, together with the consideration of published materials dealing with Nahuatl. I pinpoint the different biases and distinct methods stemming from different and at times antagonistic linguistic traditions. These traditions construct approaches and descriptions of language that materialize divergent linguistic ideologies. I hope such discussion will help unravel topics hardly reflected in the literature on Nahuatl, such as the difference between the written and the spoken word, the purist selection of a single variety to described the structure of the Nahuatl language, thus discarding contact phenomena, and in general the wide range of variability linked to different contexts, indexed in the materials themselves.