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Camino del cielo en lengua Mexicana

León, Martín de

DomaineTraditions non-occidentales
SecteurGrammaires amérindiennes [4619]

Internet Archive (éd. 1611)


León, Martín de

Datation: fl. 1611

Date of Martín de León’s birth is unknown, but it has been recorded that he was born in New Spain. According to the catalogue of John Carter Brown he died around 1600, but in other sources he died early in the 17th century.
Almost nothing is known about Martín de León’s life, except that he was a Dominican (O.P.). In Garibay (2000, p. 677), we read that he translated the work of Thomas à Kempis (C.R.S.A.; 1380-1471) from Latin into Nahuatl and that he wrote several other works in Nahuatl, some of them published, such as his Camino del cielo en lengua Mexicana (México, 1611), Sermonario (de León 1614) and Manual breve (de León 1614, with several re-editions during the 17th century). As we read in one of the prologues of his Sermonario, he had three other works ready for printing (“… quedando otros tres cuerpos hechos y acabados para imprimir”) and in addition, a dictionary, based on a grammar (not specified) (“un Vocabulario fundado en el Arte”) together with a “Contemptus Mundi”, unfortunately all are considered to have been lost. Martín de León informs his readers in the prologue of the Sermonario that he had also prepared other works with the aim of having them published, but, to date, we have not been able to find any information about the existence of such printed works. In the Colegio de San Gregorio his translation of de Kempis was noted one time, but this work seems to have been lost - although some works were later housed in the Biblioteca Nacional of Mexico City (Beristain, vol. 2, p. 160).

Titre de l'ouvrageCamino del cielo en lengua Mexicana
Titre traduitHeaven's road in the Mexican language
Titre courtCamino del cielo en lengua Mexicana
Remarques sur le titreComplete title: Camino del cielo en lengva Mexicana, con todos los requisitos necessarios para conseguir este fin, con todo lo que vn Xpiano deue creer, saber, y obrar, desde el punto que tiene vso de razon, hasta que muere. Compuesto, por el P.F. Martin de Leon, de la orden de Predicadores. Dirigido al Excelentissimo Señor Don Fray Garcia Guerra de la orden de nujestro padre S. Domingo, Arçobispo de Mexico, y Virrey desta Nueua España.
Période|17e s.|
Type de l'ouvragePrinted work. Religious text containing important information regarding orthography and phonology.
Type indexéTexte religieux | Orthoépie | Phonologie
Édition originale1611, Mexico, En la Emprenta de Diego López Dávalos, y a costa de Diego Pérez de los Ríos
Édition utiliséeJohn Carter Brown Library. Call number b3902612
Volumétrie[12], 160, [7] leaves: ill.; 20 cm. (in-4°) (368 pages). According to the description of the catalogue in the John Carter Brown Library: Woodcut title page, vignette with the arms of the dedicatee and the cardinal's hat, woodcut ill. (adoration of the Cross) on the verso of 3[par.]1, confessional scene on verso of leaf 100, head- and tail-pieces, ornamental initials, Colophon on 2 verso: A honra y gloria de Nuestro Señor Iesu Christo, y de su Benditissima Madre, y de N[uest]ro glorioso P.S. Domingo, y de la gloriosa Madalena, se acabò este libro de imprimir, à 16. de Diziembre, año de 1611.
Nombre de signes7680
Reproduction moderneNo recent facsimilar editions. Transcription of the prologue available on-line (Zempoalteca Chávez 2013).
Langues ciblesNáhuatl. According to the author, the variety chosen for his Camino is the prestigious register which was used by the court (“siempre se ha de seguir la pulícia de la lengua de la corte pulida y cortesana”) (Smith-Stark 2010, p. 463). With some examples, Martín de León also demonstrates that some words in Nahuatl are different in other regions, i.e. the variety spoken by those who live in the mountains (“serranos”) or those who speak “mountainese” (“serranamente”), like the Tlaxcaltecas and Chulutecas. León also mentions that the Tlalhuicas and Chiapanecas speak differently from the “real Mexicans” (“… según la pronunciación de los indios conforme sus provincias, que los serranos Tlalhuicas (people in and around Cuernavaca, today in the state of Morelos, were also Atzinca or Ocuilteco was spoken, an Otopame language), Chiapanecas dizen muchipa, muchintin, muchitlacatl y los meros Mexicanos, dicen mochipan, mochintin, mochitacatl y siempre se ha de seguir la pulicia de la lengua de la corte pulida y cortesana”).
MétalangueCastellano (Spanish)
Langue des exemplesNahuatl
Sommaire de l'ouvrageSoneto (in Spanish)
Aprobación del Arzobispo-Virrey Don fray García Guerra; Licencia de Ioan de Salamanca; Licencia del Maestro fray Luis Vallejo; Censura de Doctor Baltasar Muñoz de Chaves; Censura de Ioan de Tobar; Censura a lo escrito en Romance; Censura de fray Ioan Baptista de Mondragón; Censura de fray Gaspar de Arcos.
“Razones para satisfacer a la duda que en razón deste vocablo “Persona Divina” a habido y su declaración en la lengua mexicana con este vocablo y término (Teotlacatl) con que queda probado y averiguado ser el potissimo [sic] y no haber otro que tan bien lo signifique”. (no folio numbers) (Essay on the translation of the concept of “Persona divino” into Nahuatl) (5 fol.); Omnia quae in hoc opera continentur, sacro Sancte matris Ecclesiae iudicio & correctioni subiecta sunto (permission to use the word “Teotlacatl” meaning “divine person), signed by Francisco de Solis, Hieronimo de Çarate, Francisco de Rojas, Francisco Muñoz, Diego de Contreras, Alonso de Solis, Iuan de Touar, Diego de Santesteuan, Iuan de Ledesma, Augustin Cano, Francisco de Medina and Iuan Baptista de Mondragon (see for more information regarding these ecclesiastical authorities Gil 1999). Pérez (1723, p. 16) and many others used teotlacatl as translation of “divine person”, or the honorific combined with Spanish “personas” teotlacatzitzintin (Léon 1611, f. 142v). Prólogo 3 fols. (no folio numbers), including the section on orthography (4 fol.).
Camino del Cielo (including: Cathecismo entero, Oraciones, Símbolo de la fe, Reprobación de la idolatría, Calendario mexicano, etc. (for a complete table of contents see Gil (1999, p. 35-38).
Objectif de l'auteurMartín de León’s Camino del cielo en lengua mexicana, is a manual composed for priests. The main goal is religious, conversion, the administration of the faith and the extirpation of idolatry. The first three folios of the prologue are devoted to theology and conversion, and the second part is devoted to orthography. The goal of this section is to propose a standard spelling for Nahuatl, since he observes that different spellings were used at random at the time (“es bien conformarnos en escribirla según orden y regla y no que cada uno escriba ad placitum como le parece”).
Intérêt généralMartín de León’s Camino is a doctrinal text which does not aim at a full-fledged description of the language, but his description of sounds and letters in his preliminary remarks contains an important contribution to the history of writing Classical Nahuatl. Apart from spelling conventions, he also discusses some grammatical issues, such as the formation of “reverenciales” (honorifics), “verbos compulsivos” (“causatives”, adding an argument to the verb which is the agent causing the object to undertake the action of the verb”), “applicativos” (the appicative verb adds an argument to the verb, which can be benefactive, malefactive or indirect object) and some observations on the formation of plural forms verbs and reduplications. Different from Rincón’s grammar (1595), Martín de León does not want to use the {h} for the ‘saltillo’ (/ˀ/, the glottal stop), but he decides to use grave accent on the vowels to represent it ({à, è, ì, ò, ù}). Rincón uses a brevis accent over the vowel which precedes the ‘saltillo’ (Smith-Stark 1996 and 2005, p. 15). Another observation of interest, not noticed by his predecessors, is the difference between female and male speech (woman never pronounce {h}, male speakers always do). (Olmos does not make this distinction, but different from Martín, he points at the difference between the pronunciation of {u}; females in “women’s speech (“plática de mujer”) pronounce it as “v consonante”, different from males. Martín de León seems to refer other languages which have more complex phonological systems, probably Otomi, emphasizing that writing Nahuatl does not cause any difficulties when written in the Latin alphabet. In grammars of Otomi, grammarians made the distinction between “clear” and “obscure vowels”, for which existing digraphs or ligatures were used, such as {æ}, {œ}, or special symbols were created, or diacritics were needed in order to better distinguish them from each other (“y no fingiendo chimeras de medias letras ymaxinables [sic]”). The author refers to the principle of the time, that one has to write the language as one speaks or pronounces it (“Y así en toda esta lengua, es bien escribirla como se habla y pronuncia”), an adagio which probably was borrowed from Nebrija’s (1517) treatise on orthography, whose ideas can be traced back to Quintilian (“sic scribendum quidque … quomodo sonat” (Inst. Orat. 1, 7, 30, cited in Recasens 2004, p. 315; see also Calvo Pérez 2005, p. 139). Furthermore, he attempts to propose a more standardized spelling, since the language was often written at random at the time ({à} instead of {ah}, {z} instead of {ç}, {hu} and not {u}, {tz} and not {z} or {ç}, {-uc} and not {-cu}, but he informs his reader that {cua} and {qua} can be used both, but Nebrija’s spelling ({c}) has to be preferred. As Molina, he writes that {o} and {u} do not represent different phonemes, but the pronunciation varies in the speech in different dialects.
Parties du discoursThe Camino del cielo is not a grammar, so no further descriptions of the parts of speech is provided. The guide is limited to orthography and phonology, including some observations regarding sociolinguistics.
Innovations term.Verbo radical (the root of the verb), or just “radical” (‘root’).
Corpus illustratifNahuatl
Indications compl.
Influence subieThe author mentions an Arte and Vocabulario, not specified, but probably Molina’s works.
Influence exercéeAs Díaz Rubio and Bustamente García (1984, p. 196) demonstrate, Galdo Guzmán (1642) reproduces almost verbatim from Martín de León’s work, although the latter is more complete. According to Díaz Rubio and Bustamante García (1984, p. 200), León’s standardization of the Nahuatl spelling was very successful since many authors followed his guidelines - and since Rincón’s proposal seemed too confusing (ibid. p. 204).
Renvois bibliographiques→ Références
Beristáin y Souza J. M. 1883; Calvo Pérez J. 2005; Díaz Rubio E. & Bustamante García J. 1984; Galdo Guzmán D. de 1890; Garibay Á.-M. 1953; Gil F. 1999; León M. de 1611; León M. de 1614; León M. de 1614; Molina A. de 1571; Nebrija E. A. 1517; Olmos A. de 2002; Pérez M. 1723; Recasens J. S. 1994; Rincón A. del 1595; Smith-Stark T. C. 1995; Smith-Stark T. C. 2005; Smith-Stark T. C. 2010; Zempoalteca Chávez I. (éd.) 2013

Zwartjes, Otto

Création ou mise à jour2019-11