Pipil language

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Pipiles
Nawat (náhuat)
Native to El Salvador
Region Sonsonate, Ahuachapán, La Libertad, San Salvador
Ethnicity 11,100 Pipils (2005)
Native speakers
unknown (20 cited 1987)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 ppl
Glottolog pipi1250[2]

Pipil (natively Nawat) is a Uto-Aztecan language which is similar to Nahuatl, and which was spoken in several parts of present-day Central America before the Spanish conquest. Although it has been on the verge of extinction in western El Salvador and has already gone extinct elsewhere in Central America, as of 2012, new second language speakers are starting to appear.

In El Salvador, Nawat was the language of several tribes: Nonualcos, Cuscatlecos, Mazahuas, and Izalcos. The name Pipil for this language is used by the international scholarly community, chiefly to differentiate it more clearly from Nahuatl. In this article the name Nawat will be used whenever there is no risk of ambiguity.

Status and classification[edit]

Most authors refer to this language by the names Pipil or Nawat. However, Nawat (along with the synonymous Eastern Nahuatl) has also been used to refer to Nahuatl language varieties in southern Veracruz, Tabasco, and Chiapas, states in the south of Mexico, that like Pipil have reduced the earlier /t͡ɬ/ consonant (a lateral affricate) to a /t/.[3] These Mexican lects share more similarities with Nawat than do the other Nahuatl varieties.

Pipil specialists (Campbell, Fidias Jiménez, Geoffroy Rivas, King, Lemus, and Schultze, inter alia) generally treat Pipil/Nawat as a separate language, at least in practice. Lastra de Suárez (1986) and Canger (1988) classify Pipil among "Eastern Periphery" dialects of Nahuatl.

Classification of Pipil/Nawat (Campbell 1985)

  • Uto-Aztecan
    • Southern Uto-Aztecan
      • Nahuan (Aztecan, Nahuatlan)
        • Pochutec (extinct)
        • General Aztec
          • Core Nahua
          • Pipil

Uto-Aztecan is uncontroversially divided into eight branches, including Nahuan. Research continues into verifying higher level groupings. However, the grouping adopted by Campbell of the four southernmost branches may not yet be generally accepted.

Present state and future prospects of the language[edit]

As of 2012, extensive online resources for learning Nawat are available at the website of linguist Alan R. King, including video lessons and a Facebook group.[4] A video documentation project is also underway, in collaboration with the Living Tongues Institute, focusing on "Pipil culture, such as natural medicines, traditions, traditional games, agricultural practices, and childhood songs," which is intended for language learners.[5]

The varieties of Nawat in Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama are now extinct. In El Salvador, Nawat is endangered: it is spoken mostly by a few elderly speakers in the Salvadoran departments of Sonsonate and Ahuachapán. The towns of Cuisnahuat and Santo Domingo de Guzmán have the highest concentration of speakers. Campbell's 1985 estimate (based on fieldwork conducted 1970–1976) was 200 speakers. Gordon (2005) reports only 20 speakers were left in 1987. Official Mexican reports have recorded as many as 2000 speakers.[citation needed]

The exact number of speakers has been difficult to determine because persecution of Pipil speakers throughout the 20th century (massacres after suppression of the 1932 Salvadoran peasant uprising, laws that made speaking Nawat illegal) made them conceal their use of the language.[6] (About 30,000 people were killed during the uprising over the course of a few weeks, and those who spoke Nawat outside their homes against the new rules "provoked shame and fear." A young Nawat language activist, Carlos Cortez, explained in 2010 that this fear is worse for older speakers.[7])

A few small-scale projects to revitalize Nawat in El Salvador have been attempted since 1990. The Asociación Coordinadora de Comunidades Indígenas de El Salvador (ACCIES Archived 2 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine) and Universidad Don Bosco of San Salvador have both produced some teaching materials. Monica Ward has developed an on-line language course.[8] The Nawat Language Recovery Initiative[9] is a grassroots association currently engaged in several activities including an ongoing language documentation project, and has also produced a range of printed materials. Thus, as the number of native speakers continues to dwindle, there is growing interest in some quarters in keeping the language alive, but as of 2002, the national government had not joined these efforts (cf. Various, 2002).[10]

As of 2010, the town of Santo Domingo de Guzman had a language nest, “Xuchikisa nawat” ("the house where Nawat blooms"), where children three to five years of age learned Nawat, run in cooperation with Don Bosco University.[11][12]

In 2010, Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes awarded the National Culture Prize (Premio Nacional de Cultura 2010) to linguist Dr. Jorge Ernesto Lemus of Don Bosco University for his work with Nawat.[13][14]

According to a 2009 report in El Diario de Hoy, Nawat had started to make a comeback as a result of the preservation and revitalization efforts of various non-profit organizations in conjunction with several universities, combined with a post-civil war resurgence of Pipil identity in El Salvador. In the 1980s, Nawat had about 200 speakers. By 2009, 3,000 people were participating in Nawat language learning programs, the vast majority being young people, giving rise to hopes that the language might be pulled back from the brink of extinction.[15]

Present geographic distribution[edit]

Localities where Pipil was reported by Campbell as spoken in the 1970s include the following:

Gordon (2009) lists Dolores as a Pipil-speaking area.[16] Kaufman (1970:66) lists Escuintla and Comapa as former Pipil-speaking areas of Guatemala, and San Agustín Acasaguastlán as a former "Mejicano"-speaking town.[17] The genetic position of San Agustín Acasaguastlán Mejicano is still uncertain (see Alagüilac language). However, Nahuan languages are currently no longer spoken in Guatemala.

Pipil and Nahuatl compared[edit]

Main article: Pipil grammar

Phonology[edit]

Two salient features of Pipil are found in several Mexican dialects: the change of [t͡ɬ] to [t] and [u] rather than [o] as the predominant allophone of a single basic rounded vowel phoneme. These features are thus characteristic but not diagnostic.

However, Pipil /t/ corresponds to not only the two Classical Nahuatl sounds /t/ and /t͡ɬ/ but also a word final saltillo or glottal stop in nominal plural suffixes (e.g. Pipil -met : Classical -meh) and verbal plural endings (Pipil -t present plural, -ket past plural, etc.). This fact has been claimed by Campbell to be diagnostic for the position of Pipil in a genetic classification, on the assumption that this /t/ is more archaic than the Classical Nahuatl reflex, where the direction of change has been /t/ > saltillo.

One other characteristic phonological feature is the merger in Pipil of original geminate /ll/ with single /l/.

Grammar[edit]

Main article: Pipil grammar

Pipil lacks some grammatical features present in Classical Nahuatl, such as the past prefix o- in verbs. It distributes others differently: for example, 'subtractive' past formation, which is very common in the classical language, exists in Pipil but is much rarer. On the other hand, reduplication to form plural nouns, of more limited distribution in the language of the Aztecs, is greatly generalised in Pipil. Still other grammatical features that were productive in Classical Nahuatl have left only fossilised traces in Pipil: for example, synchronically Pipil has no postpositions, although a few lexical forms derive etymologically from older postpositional forms, e.g. apan 'river' < *'in/on the water', kujtan 'uncultivated land, forest' < *'under the trees'; these are synchronically unanalyzable in modern Pipil.

Noun phrase[edit]

Comparison: Noun phrase
Nahuatl Pipil Pipil example
plural marking limited in Classical generalized taj-tamal 'tortillas'

sej-selek 'tender, fresh (pl.)'

plural formation mostly suffixes mostly redup.
absolute -tli (Pipil -ti) generally kept often absent mistun 'cat (abs.)'
construct /C_ -wi or zero always zero nu-uj 'my path'
inalienability nouns generally have absolutes many inalienables *mey-ti, *nan-ti...
possessive prefixes lose o before vowel retain vowel (u) nu-ikaw 'my brother'
articles no generalized articles in Classical definite ne, indefinite se ne/se takat 'the/a man'
post/prepositions postpositions no post-, only prepositions tik ne apan 'in the river'

Pipil has developed two widely-used articles, definite ne and indefinite se. The demonstrative pronouns/determiners ini 'this, these' and uni 'that, those' are also distinctively Pipil in form. The obligatory marking of number extends in Pipil to almost all plural noun phrases (regardless of animacy), which will contain at least one plural form, most commonly marked by reduplication.

Many nouns are invariable for state, since -ti (cf. Classical -tli, the absolute suffix after consonants) is rarely added to polysyllabic noun stems, while the Classical postconsonantal construct suffix, -wi, is altogether unknown in Pipil: thus sin-ti 'maize' : nu-sin 'my maize', uj-ti 'way' : nu-uj 'my way', mistun 'cat' : nu-mistun 'my cat'.

An important number of nouns lack absolute forms and occur only inalienably possessed, e.g. nu-mey 'my hand' (but not *mey or *mey-ti), nu-nan 'my mother' (but not *nan or *nan-ti), thus further reducing the number of absolute-construct oppositions and the incidence of absolute -ti in comparison to Classical Nahuatl.

Postpositions have been eliminated from the Pipil grammatical system, and some monosyllabic prepositions originating from relationals have become grammaticalized.

Verbs[edit]

Comparison: Verb
Nahuatl Pipil Pipil example
inflection more complex less complex; analytic substitutes kuchi nemi katka 'used to stay and sleep'
past prefix o- found in Classical + some dialects no ki-neki-k 'he wanted it'

ni-kuch-ki 'I slept'

subtractive past formation common in Classical + some dialects limited
past in -ki no yes
perfect in -tuk no yes ni-kuch-tuk 'I have slept'
imperfect -ya -tuya (stative) ni-weli-tuya 'I could'
-skia, -tuskia conditionals no yes ni-takwika-(tu)-skia 'I would sing/I would have sung'
initial prefixes /_V lose i mostly retain i niajsi 'I arrive',

kielkawa 'he forgets it'

To form the past tense, most Pipil verbs add -k (after vowels) or -ki (after consonants, following loss of the final vowel of the present stem), e.g. ki-neki 'he wants it' : ki-neki-k 'he wanted it', ki-mati 'he knows it' : ki-mat-ki 'he knew it'. The mechanism of simply removing the present stem vowel to form past stems, so common in Classical Nahuatl, is limited in Pipil to polysyllabic verb stems such as ki-talia 'he puts it' → ki-tali(j) 'he put it', mu-talua 'he runs' → mu-talu(j) 'he ran', and a handful of other verbs, e.g. ki-tajtani 'he asks him' → ki-tajtan 'he asked him'.

Pipil has a perfect in -tuk (synchronically unanalyzable), plural -tiwit. Another tense suffix, -tuya, functions both as a pluperfect (k-itz-tuya ne takat 'he had seen the man') and as an imperfect of stative verbs (inte weli-tuya 'he couldn't'), in the latter case having supplanted the -ya imperfect found in Mexican dialects.

Pipil has two conditional tenses, one in -skia expressing possible conditions and possible results, and one in -tuskia for impossible ones, although the distinction is sometimes blurred in practice. A future tense in -s (plural -sket) is attested but rarely used, a periphrastic future being preferred, e.g. yawi witz (or yu-witz) 'he will come'.

In serial constructions, the present tense (really the unmarked tense) is generally found except in the first verb, regardless of the tense of the latter, e.g. kineki / kinekik / kinekiskia kikwa 'he wants / wanted / would like to eat it'.

There are also some differences regarding how prefixes are attached to verb-initial stems; principally, that in Pipil the prefixes ni-, ti-, shi- and ki- when word-initial retain their i in most cases, e.g. ni-ajsi 'I arrive', ki-elkawa 'he forgets it'.

See also[edit]


Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Pipiles at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Pipil". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Ligorred, E: Lenguas Indígenas de México y Centroamérica
  4. ^ "Alan R. King's - Nawat Resources". Retrieved 2012-09-30. 
  5. ^ Eddie Avila (2012-08-28). "A Video Library for Successor Pipil Generation". Rising Voices » Languages. Retrieved 2012-09-02. 
  6. ^ German Rivas (2010). "Tiknekit timumachtiat ne nawat (Queremos aprender náhuat)". La Prensa Gráfica. Retrieved 2012-09-30. 
  7. ^ Roberto Valencia (2010-04-23). "¡'Náhuat', levántate y anda". elmundo.es. Retrieved 2012-09-30. 
  8. ^ Ward, Monica, Nawat 
  9. ^ Nawat Language Recovery Initiative 
  10. ^ "Chapter 8 Testing and Evaluation = CALL program for learning Nawat". Retrieved 2012-09-30. 
  11. ^ Carlos Chávez (2010-11-07). "No hay nadie que sepa más de náhuat que yo". Retrieved 2012-09-30. 
  12. ^ "Dr. Jorge Lemus, Premio Nacional de Cultura (El Salvador, 2010)". TEHUACÁN: RELIGIÓN, POLÍTICA, CULTURA:. 2010-10-30. Retrieved 2012-09-30. 
  13. ^ "Presidente Mauricio Funes entrega "Premio Nacional De Cultura" a lingüista, doctor, Jorge Ernesto Lemus". Presidencia de la República de El Salvador. Retrieved 2012-09-30. 
  14. ^ "Discurso del Presidente Mauricio Funes en la entrega del Premio Nacional de Cultura 2010". ContraPunto - Noticias de El Salvador. Retrieved 2012-09-30. 
  15. ^ Alfredo Garcia (2009). "Náhuat, el renacimiento de una lengua. En 2003 quedaban solo unos 200 náhuat hablantes en todo el país. Seis años después, alrededor de 3 mil estudiantes de 11 escuelas reciben clases de este idioma". elsalvador.com. Retrieved 2012-09-30. 
  16. ^ Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (Ed.) Ethnologue: Languages of the world (16th ed.). Dallas, Texas: SIL International. ISBN 9781556712166
  17. ^ Kaufman, Terrence. 1970. Proyecto de alfabetos y ortografías para escribir las lenguas mayances. Antigua: Editorial José de Pineda Ibarra.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Asociación Coordinadora de Comunidades Indígenas de El Salvador (ACCIES) (no date). Tukalmumachtiak Nahuat (Lengua Náhuat, Primer Ciclo).
  • Arauz, Próspero (1960). El pipil de la región de los Itzalcos. (Edited by Pedro Geoffroy Rivas.) San Salvador: Ministerio de Cultura.
  • Calvo Pacheco, Jorge Alfredo (2000). Vocabulario castellano-pipil pípil-kastíyan. Izalco, El Salvador.
  • Campbell, Lyle. (1985). The Pipil language of El Salvador. Mouton. Mouton grammar library; 1.
  • Comisión Nacional de Rescate del Idioma Náhuat (1992a). Ma Timumachtika Nauataketsalis / Aprendamos el Idioma Náhuat. San Salvador: Concultura.
  • Comisión Nacional de Rescate del Idioma Náhuat (1992b). Ma Timumachtika Nauataketsalis (Aprendamos el Idioma Náhuat). Guía Metodológica para la Enseñanza del Náhuat. San Salvador: Concultura.
  • Geoffroy Rivas, Pedro (1969). El nawat de Cuscatlán: Apuntes para una gramática. San Salvador: Ministerio de Educación.
  • King, Alan R. (2004b). Gramática elemental del náhuat. El Salvador: IRIN.
  • King, Alan R. (2004c). El náhuat y su recuperación. In: Científica 5. San Salvador: Universidad Don Bosco.
  • King, Alan R. (2011). Léxico del Náhuat Básico.
  • Ligorred, E. (1992). Lenguas Indígenas de México y Centroamérica. Madrid: Mapfre.
  • Roque, Consuelo (2000). Nuestra escuela náhuat. San Salvador: Universidad de El Salvador.
  • Todd, Juan G. (1953). Notas del náhuat de Nahuizalco. San Salvador: Editorial "Nosotros".
  • Universidad de El Salvador, Secretaria de Docencia, Investigación Posgrado y Proyección Social. (1996) El náhuat de El Salvador: uno de los dialectos más importantes de la lengua nahua de la familia utoazteca junto con el náhuatl y el náhual. San Salvador: Editorial Universitaria, Universidad de El Salvador.
  • Various (2002). Perfil de los pueblos indígenas en El Salvador. San Salvador.
  • Ward, Monica (2001). A Template for CALL Programs for Endangered Languages. On-line version


External links[edit]