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Nahuatl in Coatepec: Ideologies, practices and management for linguistic and cultural continuance

  • Rosalva Mojica LagunasEmail author
Original Paper
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Abstract

Although more than a million people still speak Nahuatl, this number is rapidly diminishing. Historically, Nahuatl was the dominant language of Coatepec de los Costales, a small village in Guerrero, Mexico. The last 50 years have seen a pronounced shift there from Nahuatl to Spanish. The ultimate cause of language shift is a disruption in intergenerational language transmission as a result of often violent colonial encounters. Using a conceptual framework that combines (1) the primacy of Indigenous knowledge systems, (2) a critical sociocultural approach to language acquisition, (3) Bernard Spolsky’s definition of language policy as language practices, ideologies and management, and (4) the ethnography of language policy, this article explores, from a critical Indigenous perspective, the local dynamics and global influences that contribute to the endangerment of Nahuatl. More specifically, it examines the mechanisms through which language ideologies, family–community language management strategies and everyday language practices operate among people of different generations, thereby revealing socialisation practices and Indigenous systems of community-based learning. This work may assist other Indigenous communities in better understanding the multiple mechanisms at play in language loss and reclamation – spanning educational to environmental contexts.

Keywords

language learning language shift Indigenous languages language reclamation language planning and policy Mexico 

Résumé

Le nahuatl à Coatepec : idéologies, pratiques et gestion de la pérennité linguistique et culturelle – Même s’il existe encore plus d’un million de personnes parlent encore le nahuatl, leur nombre diminue rapidement. Le nahuatl était à l’origine la langue principale parlée à Coatepec de los Costales, petite localité située dans l’État mexicain de Guerrero. Au cours des 50 dernières années, le passage de nahuatl à l’espagnol a été prononcé. La cause ultime de ce changement de langue est une rupture de la transmission linguistique intergénérationnelle à la suite d’affrontements coloniaux souvent violents. Au moyen d’un cadre conceptuel associant (1) la primauté des systèmes autochtones de savoir, (2) une approche socio-culturelle critique de l’acquisition du langage, (3) la définition par Bernard Spolsky de la politique linguistique considérant les pratiques, idéologies et la gestion linguistiques, et (4) l’ethnographie de la politique linguistique, cet article explore, dans une perspective autochtone critique, les dynamiques locales et des influences mondiales qui contribuent à la mise en péril du nahuatl. Plus spécifiquement, il examine les mécanismes qui régissent, chez des individus de différentes générations, les idéologies linguistiques, les stratégies familiales et communautaires de gestion linguistique et les pratiques linguistiques quotidiennes – et dévoile ainsi les pratiques de socialisation et les systèmes autochtones d’apprentissage communautaire. Ce travail peut aider d’autres communautés indigènes à mieux comprendre les multiples mécanismes en jeu dans la déperdition et la réhabilitation linguistiques, qui touchent jusqu’aux contextes éducatifs et environnementaux.

Resumen

Náhuatl en Coatepec: Ideologías, prácticas y gestión para la continuidad lingüística y cultural – Aunque más de un millón de personas todavía hablan náhuatl, este número está disminuyendo rápidamente. Históricamente, el náhuatl fue el idioma dominante de Coatepec de los Costales, un pequeño pueblo de Guerrero, México. En los últimos 50 años se ha producido un pronunciado cambio del náhuatl al español. La causa última del cambio de idioma es una interrupción en la transmisión intergeneracional del idioma como resultado de encuentros coloniales a menudo violentos. Utilizando un marco conceptual que combina (1) la primacía de los sistemas de conocimiento indígenas, (2) un enfoque sociocultural crítico para la adquisición del idioma, (3) la definición de Bernard Spolsky de la política lingüística como prácticas lingüísticas, ideologías y gestión, y (4) la etnografía de la política lingüística, este artículo explora, desde una perspectiva indígena crítica, las dinámicas locales y las influencias globales que contribuyen al peligro del náhuatl. Más específicamente, examina los mecanismos a través de los cuales las ideologías lingüísticas, las estrategias de gestión lingüística familia-comunidad y las prácticas lingüísticas cotidianas operan entre personas de diferentes generaciones, revelando así las prácticas de socialización y los sistemas indígenas de aprendizaje basado en la comunidad. Este trabajo puede ayudar a otras comunidades indígenas a comprender mejor los múltiples mecanismos que intervienen en la pérdida y recuperación de lenguas, que abarcan desde la educación hasta los contextos ambientales.

Notes

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Copyright information

© UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning and Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Arizona State UniversityPhoenixUSA

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