Nahuatl in the Huasteca Hidalguense : a case study in the sociology of language
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This thesis examines the vitality of Hidalgo Nahuatl (HN) in the communities of Jaltocan, Panacaxtlan, Santa Cruz, Santa Teresa and Zohuala in the Huasteca Hidalguense, Mexico. The research, conducted in Mexico and St. Andrews University from 1976-1982, applies an analysis of HN within the framework of the Sociology of Language and Dependency Theory, thereby using a multi-disciplinary approach. Through an investigation of the historical, social, cultural and economic factors related to HN, the latter is embedded in its reality. HN is shown to be originally a language of dependency and oppression, supported by a long mestizo tradition of "caciquismo". It is demonstrated that an increasing number of Spanish (S) monolinguals, together with other socio-economic factors, is encouraging Nahuas to bilingualize and S:: =A. is fast becoming the new language of dependency. The Hidalgo Nahuas possess practical reasons for the acquisition of S., these being to solve their daily problems - especially land tenancy -, to communicate with the mestizo out-group and to undertake trading with non-HN speakers. However, the Nahuas are not surrendering their native language as they bilingualize, but rather, tend to limit its usage to native Nahua contexts and speakers. HN has become important to the Nahuas in order to demonstrate their ethnic identity and territoriality. The introduction of government projects to the communities, such as the Castellanizacion project or bilingual-bicultural education, are shown to be theoretically bilingual in approach, but fail to take into account sufficiently the regional Indian language in the praxis. The stable maintenance of HN is highlighted by statistical results from the word-count of recorded texts, documents and publications and the range of morphological phenomena affecting S. words in HN is described with examples from the Corpus. The linguistic interference from S. in HN is located within Dependency Theory and this author suggests the use of the term dependency word rather than loan word and dependency language, thus implying a diachronic sociological process which is reflected in HN. Extended Texts are offered as evidence of the linguistic standard of HN and attitudes of Nahuas towards their language are presented. The final conclusion is that modern HN is a viable, vital and functional language at the time of undertaking this research and demonstrates a frequent usage by a large number of speakers. HN has still not entered into:. -avital process of language death, as is the case in other Nahuatl-speaking regions of Mexico, and is still being maintained, particularly at community level, by adults and children alike.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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