Richard Introduction to Classical Nahuatl. Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN: , This exhaustive, if difficult, reference grammar seems capable of answering virtually any question, but has proven too dense for us to make very much sense of it on points we have not already at least partially understood. The compact but very explanatory Nahuatl-English vocabulary at the back has been quite useful, however.

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There is no shortage of dictionaries of Nahuatl. Throughout the colonial period and especially since the s dozens of small dictionaries and wordlists of Nahuatl have been published.

But most of them are not available online. In this blog post I am going to review some of the Nahuatl dictionaries that can be found online.

This work is unfortunately not available online, but can be bought in facisimile from different Mexican book traders. This is a must have for any Nahuatl scholar. This means that it is hard to check for errors, and to trace possible dialectal or regional variation in vocabulary. And it does contain a lot of errors as derivative works inevitably do both the errors of the sources and their own new errors. It translates both ways to both Spanish and English, it includes vowel length and glottal stops as well as a not very useful phonetic transcription of each entry , it gives examples of usage from actual texts and it is easy to search.

It has a really good number of entries although on more than one occasion, I have drawn a blank on some odd word. The sources are clearly marked, it separately gives the definitions verbatim from each of them. Sometimes it gives too many entries, especially on short words, because it returns all the words that contain a certain string of letters. Then you have to scroll down to the one you want.

Except it is better. What makes it better is that it includes examples of usage of all the entries, taken from the Florentine Codex. Sometimes there are many examples and sometimes few, but they are always an immense help in understanding how a word is used and its deeper contextual meanings. This means that it is basically just as slow to find a word as if it were a paper dictionary.

The second drawback is that it is in French, sometimes with Spanish translations in the examples. Nonetheless this has become my general go-to dictionary because it has so many entries combined with the great examples.

Many of them are available for download at their website linked below. The good thing about these is that they are each based on fieldwork with a single variety and reflect local usage form the communities studied. These makes them pretty much the only current source of lexical knowledge about several Nahuan varieties. They are often written by two authors with the same surnames - that is because many of them are missionary couples who lived in the community for decades working simultaneously on the dictionary and Bible translations into the language.

Some of them had little linguistic training, others are excellent linguists. The early ILV dictionaries were published in a series called Mariano Silva y Aceves, these are the worst ones as they are all very short give only a single word meaning for each entry and no examples - basically just wordlists.

The more recent ones are made much more professionally with examples and grammatical information. These are not really online dictionaries though, but just paper dictionaries put online.

Both because it comes out of my Alma Mater the University of Copenhagen and is the work of my mentor Una Canger and also because it really should be in the good section, it has just been superseded very quickly by technology. It is essentially an online dictionary 1. Canger very early on saw the promise of digital technology for lexicography and the linguistic need for dictionaries that could use several orthographies and link words directly to a text corpus.

It uses three orthographies, a phonemic orthography with symbols based on the Americanist Phonetic Alphabet, a standardized classical orthography and the actual paleography of the texts - this is really useful for linguistic analysis. And it also gives morphological information in the phonemic representation which also represents the morphological analysis.

But due to the era in which it was designed, the early s, the technology platform was DOS based requiring basic coding skills to use and there was no user Graphic User Interface. We didnt think of this as a problem back then in the s of course, but today it just doesnt work very well with how we use technology.

Secondly the text data base had to be handcoded and hence turned out to be quite small compared to how big one expects a database to be today. It is based on Books 2 and 11 of the Florentine codex, the codex Aubin, parts of Molina perhaps all if more coding has been accomplished since I was last informed the Bankcroft dialogues and a couple of colonail documents.

It really can be a very good tool to find the text examples, but the Wired Humanities dictionary mentioned above just is much better in terms of the user interface, and the demands put on the user. I was still very happy when I saw that the dictionary had been put online and works as an actual online dictionary. Canger published a really good article about the dictionary in the volume "Making Dictionaries" edited by William Frawley, Kenneth Hill and Pamela Munro.

This one is worth a read just to read the way Canger describes all the challenges and pitfalls of creating a dictionary of a language like Nahuatl - the only analytical description of such problems that I know of. This group of native speaking scholars have produced this valuable dictionary of the varieties of the Zongolica region in collaboration with linguist Andres Hasler. It is not huge, but have a really decent amount of entries, and is particularly interesting because it describes a regional variety with some attention to variation between communities in the region and is written mainly by native speakers.

It does not include vowel length even though this is an important feature of many varieties of the region - but this is probably because this is less important for native speakers who produce the right vowel length intuitively.

It is a searchable pdf file, but basically a print dictionary put online. But I am including this dictionary here because I have already met several people online who have used it, and I feel responsible for issuing a general warning about it.

Aulex is a kind of "crowd sourced" dictionary which means that it is basically made by ordinary folks who compile the dictionary and upload it to the website. The outline of the dialects is an entirely erroneous and confused list of different Nahuatl varieties.

He also invents the absurd language "Nahuatl Paiute-Apache" which is non-existent and seems to be a combination of Paiute a Numic language that is distantly related to Nahuatl and Apache which belongs to the Athabascan language family and has nothing in common with Nahuatl at all. He also claims Nahuatl to be spoken in several places where it is not. The worst part however is the sources, which is an eclectic mix of other good dictionaries, bad Spanish language paper dictionaries of specific dialects and terrible pseudolinguistic works such as the works by Juan Luna Cardenas who made up new Nahuatl words for all kinds of things and put them in books.

For example he famously coined the word "ixachilan" which he alleged to refer to the American continent, but which in reality has never been used by actual native Nahuatl speakers. In the dictionary this word however is randomly changed to ixachitlan, which is not what Luna Cardenas actually wrote. Tonnes of entries have these kinds of errors, giving for example sometimes word forms that are phonologically impossible in any known variety of Nahuatl.

It also contains hundreds of what seem to be newly coined neologisms for modern concepts, such as US states, Alaskak "Alaska", kaliforniatl "person from California" , or technologies pipiyolkali "helicopter". Most of these are unintelligible to native speakers pipiyolkalli forexample would seem to be composed of the roots for "bee" and "house", giving the logical meaning "beehouse" or "hive", not "helicopter".

This means that trying to pass of anything written with the dictionary as actual Nahuatl would be confusing and possibly offensive to native speakers who have no chance of knowing these words or their meanings. The dictionary never gives examples of usage, and it is impossible to trace the source of a given entry. Needless to say it doesnt record glottal stops or vowel length. No one should use this dictionary for any serious purpose, as it is an insult both to scholarship and to the people who speak the language natively.

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Frances Karttunen

None- 5 An example of such a proposal is otto J. Howcvcr, the Ittany otltct uscs that such a dictiorraly invitcs und shriultl pronrotc arc lcss adequatcly scrved precisely because thc sources arc so heterogeneous, and be- cause Karttuncn is lcss concerned with these other functions. By Franccs Karttunen. Iis] expressed both in the English glosses and in the referenccs between entries" Austin: University of Texas Press,


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