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Mesoamerican Languages Project

Frances Karttunen, Director

The Mesoamerican Languages Project at the Linguistics Research Center began in 1978. Researchers have included Frances Karttunen (Nahuatl and Yucatec Maya), Robert Amsler and Robert Bley-Vroman (technical support), and Barbara McLeod (Yucatec Maya). On computational aspects of this work, see Karttunen 1983 (with Robert Amsler).


Two major grants from the National Science Foundation made possible two book-length publications on Nahuatl (see Karttunen 1983, 1985), and a translation grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities made possible production of another book-length publication on Nahuatl (Karttunen 1987).

Additional grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies have supported research for published articles on indigenous languages of Latin America. Other books by Karttunen address the role of interpreters in initial language-contact situations (e.g., Karttunen 1994, paperback 1996); see also "Interpreters Snatched from the Shore," in Edward G. Gray and Norman Fiering, eds., The Language Encounter in the Americas, 1492 to 1800. New York: Berghahn Books, 2000, pp. 215-229.

Another product of the Mesoamerican Languages Project has been a series of encyclopedia articles (see Karttunen Publications).


Several Nahuatl courses were sponsored by the LRC's Mesoamerican Languages Project:

  • University of Texas courses in the Institute for Latin American Studies, Frances Karttunen, Instructor
  • NEH Summer Institutes for College and University Faculty, Institute for Latin American Studies, Frances Karttunen, Instructor
  • Foundation Course in Nahuatl Grammar, by Frances Karttunen of the LRC and Joseph Campbell of Indiana University.


The Mesoamerican Languages Project came to an end when the Director retired and moved away in 2000. Dr. Karttunen may be contacted via e-mail:

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