Bridging divides: A proposal for integrating the teaching, research and revitalization of Nahuatl

Date
2016-02
Authors
Olko, Justyna
Sullivan, John
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University of Hawai'i Press
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159
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184
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Abstract
This paper discusses major historical, cultural, linguistic, social and institutional factors contributing to the shift and endangerment of the Nahuatl language in Mexico. As a practical proposal, we discuss our strategy for its revitalization, as well as a series of projects and activities we have been carrying out for the last several years. Crucial to this approach are several complementary elements: interdisciplinary research, including documentary work, as well as investigation of both the historical and the present state of Nahuatl language and culture; integration of both Western and native-speaking indigenous researchers as equal partners and the provision of space for indigenous methodologies; creation of teaching programs for native and non-native speakers oriented toward the preparation of language materials; and close collaboration with indigenous communities in developing community-based programs. The operability of this strategy will depend greatly on our ability to foster collaboration across academic, social, and ideological boundaries, to integrate theory, methodology and program implementation, and to efficiently combine grass- roots and top-down approaches. An important aim is to restore the culture of literacy in Nahuatl through our monolingual Totlahtol series, publishing works from all variants of the language and encompassing all genres of writing. We also strive to strengthen the historical and cultural identity of native speakers by facilitating their access to the alphabetical texts written by their ancestors during the colonial era.
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Olko, Justyna and John Sullivan. 2016. Bridging divides: A proposal for integrating the teaching, research and revitalization of Nahuatl. In Vera Ferreira and Peter Bouda (eds.). Language Documentation and Conservation in Europe. 159-184. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press.
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