Linguistics Department

Hilaria Cruz - Practice Job Talk "Chatino verbal art, language documentation, description, and revitalization"

Thu, March 1, 2012 | PAR 302

3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

May you be a wonderful man,
May you be a wonderful woman.
Chatino verbal art, language documentation, description, and revitalization.
The Chatino languages of Oaxaca, Mexico, contain rich poetics that are pervasive in formal and everyday speech. Chatino grammar along with parallelism, repetition, metaphor, synonymy, and a variety of figures of speech create a dynamic and compelling body of poetry. Verbs of motion, position, personal pronouns, aspectual markers, and the rich and complex pattern of Chatino tones are some of the grammatical categories that are manipulated on Chatino poetics. These elements are distinguishing features of the large body of formulaic poetic expressions that are part of the collective knowledge of the community. The structural backbone of Chatino poetics is parallelistic repetition. The repetition at the level of stanza and strophe give “an effect of integrity and authority, presenting the same subject in a variety of complementary ways, but it can also produce a polyphonic interweaving of imagery and motif that embody the richness and complexity of the poem’s subject matter,” (Parkinson 1997:11). Chatino is not alone in this endeavor. This characteristic of verbal art is very much a part of a pan-Mesoamerican tradition. Repetition and parallelism are the backbone of modern and ancient Mayan (Hull 2003, Bricker 1974; Gossen 1974, among others), Nahuatl (Garibay 1953, 1968; Portilla 1993) and Mixtec languages (Monaghan 1990) of Mexico and Guatemala. The poetics in the ancient hieroglyphic inscriptions in Mayan and Mixtec languages show similar poetic constructions. The addition of Chatino to this area of study is a direct result of the documentation project that I along with other members of the Chatino Documentation Project (CLDP) here at UT have been carrying out in the Chatino.

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