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Arte de la lengua totonaca


DomaineTraditions non-occidentales
SecteurGrammaires amérindiennes [4676]


Datation: fl. 1699

According to León-Portilla (1990, p. x), the author of the Arte de la lengua totonaca could have been Eugenio Romero. In Antonio (1672, p. 362) a grammar is mentioned with the title Arte para aprender las lenguas Mexicana y Totonaca (Morales Lara 2008, p. 217, no. 6), composed by Eugenio Romero. Since the anonymous grammar Arte de la lengua totonaca contains a large number of paradigms in the two languages, Nahuatl and Totonac, it is possible that Eugenio Romero was the author and that the two works are in fact the same. The author is mentioned in González Dávila (1649, p. 232), as an “eminent master in Theology” and an expert in the two languages, Nahuatl (lengua mexicana) and Totomac [sic]; he may have composed a grammar of the former latter, but in González Dávila’s (ibid.) description we do not read that he had written a grammar of both languages, but only of Totonac (“compuso un Arte para aprender, y entender la Lengua Totomaca [sic]”). In Beristáin de Souza (1821, p. 73), we read that he spoke “several indigenous languages”. After his mission in the Totonac region, Romero worked in Tepexexuma (Tepejojuma) in the district of Matamoros in the current state of Puebla. Later, in the first third of the seventeenth century he moved to Oaxaca, he was “canónigo” in the Cathedral of Oaxaca. In Antonio, who refers to González Dávila, we find a title, which reveals that he described both languages, Totonac and Nahuatl: “Eugenius Romero, canonicus ecclesiae de Antequera in provincia Novi Orbis cui Guaxaca nomen est, theologus, edidit linguis incolarum vernaculis Arte para aprender las lenguas Mexicana, y Totonaca: de quo testem habeo Aegidium Gonzalez Davila in Theatro Indico Eclesiastico” (Antonio 1783, vol. I, p. 362). Since the authorship cannot be confirmed by evidence, we prefer to classify this work as anonymous.

Titre de l'ouvrageArte de la lengua totonaca
Titre traduitGrammar of the Totonac language
Titre courtArte de la lengua totonaca
Remarques sur le titreThe front page with the title and the first folio is missing in the Ms. The title Arte de la lengua totonaca is given by the editor McQuown (1990).
Période|17e s.|
Type de l'ouvrageManuscript. Descriptive grammar, Didactic/pedagogic grammar. Contrastive grammar (Totonac, Nahuatl, Latin/Spanish).
Type indexéGrammaire descriptive | Grammaire didactique | Grammaire élémentaire | Grammaire contrastive
Édition originale[1699]. According to McQuown (1990, p. vii) the manuscript had been produced at the end of the 16th or the begining of the 17th century, probably in the Franciscan convent of San Andrés Hueytlalpan, in the Sierra Norte of the modern state of Puebla. According to León Portilla, the text was written in the first third of the 17th century (Morales Lara 2008 p. 217). If he would have based his grammar on Rincón’s grammar of Nahuatl, which appeared in 1595, it is likely that the Manuscript was produced after this year, possibly the first decade of the 17th century. Although this cannot be confirmed, we classify this work as a 17th century source.
Édition utiliséeMcQuown 1990. Original in “Fondo Privado de la Biblioteca Nacional”, México.
VolumétrieUnknown, according to McQuown (1990, p. viii), the leaves 1, 5-8, 13-15, 22-27, 33-36, and 65 are missing. No further details about the Ms given by McQuown. The Manuscript is not complete. The fourth and fifth books are missing, although their content is mentioned at the beginning.
Nombre de signes40000
Reproduction moderneMcQuown 1990. (Facsimile edition of the manuscript with transliteration).
DiffusionAfter its completion, the work was in a private collection, and was later acquired by the Escuela Nacional de Antropología (División de Ciencias Biológicas del Instituto Politécnico Nacional) (McQuown 1990, p. vii). Today it is housed in the Fondo Privado de la Biblioteca Nacional, Mexico (no further details given).
Langues ciblesTotonac (Totonac-Tepehua linguistic family).
There are two different etymologies of this glottonym. The first had already been given in the 18th century by Francisco Domínguez, the author who wrote an appendix to Zamora Bonilla’s grammar and some word-lists. At the end of this wordlist, we find the etymology of this word, which would have been derived from Totonac “three” (toto) and “heart” (naco), referring to the sacrifice of three children each three years (history based on Mendieta, apud Troiani) (2007, p. 9). Troiani proposed another etymology and interprets the term as a Nahuatl exonym, derived from tona (“hot”, “it is hot”) with reduplication to marc intensity, with the suffix -c which is a participle or preterit marker, used with the function to denote the agent to-tona-c = “the people of the hot country” (in Spanish “los de Tierra Caliente”). Tepehua is also a Nahuatl exonym, meaning “the people of the mountains”, which is also used elsewhere in Mexico (not to be confused with the glottonym, “la lengua tepehuana” which is a Uto-Aztec language from the North-West of Mexico). There are no extant grammars from the colonial period describing Tepehua, the other branch of the Totonac-Tepehua linguistic family. For the genetic relationship between Totonac and Tepehua, see Mackay & Trechsel (2015).
MétalangueCastilian (Spanish). In the text, sometimes “castellano”, but also “Romance” (f. 42v).
Langue des exemplesTotonac and Nahuatl (and sometimes also Latin, mostly in the trilingual paradigms). McQuown’s edition contains several indices, Totonac, Latin and Nahuatl. Nahuatl is not only included as mere translations or parallel paradigms, but often we find contrastive analysis, comparing Totonac with Nahuatl. Usually, Nahuatl is referred to as “Lengua Mexicana”, but one time we find the term “nauatl” (f. 21r), which is not a frequently used glottonym in missionary grammars of this period. Examples from Nahuatl are given for several purposes: (1) in order demonstrate that a certain feature in Totonac is different, or the “opposite”, compared to the corresponding feature in Nahuatl (“contrario a la lengua Mexicana”) (f. 16r) (Ridruejo 2008 [2006], p. 729). For instance, Totonac prepositions are anteposed, whereas in Nahuatl they are postposed (f. 18r). Sometimes the author observes that a certain phenomenon in Totonac is different from Nahuatl Latin or “Romance” (“… a quien corresponde legítamente el Mexicano Noma a los cuales no hay en Latín ni en Romançe otro que substancialmente les equivalga (sino diciéndolo por rodeos y circumloquios) en la significación y énfasis que contienen” [f. 42r-v]). Another example is the “semipronombres”, which are lacking in Totonac, but present in Nahuatl (f. 46v-48v); (2) Examples are given in Nahuatl, in order to demonstrate that a certain feature occurs in both languages, Totonac and Nahuatl, and sometimes also as in Latin (f. 17r; 19r; 20r; 20v; 21r; 42r; 49r; 51r-52r; 53r; 55v; 59r; 62r-63r; 67v-68r), or as in Castilian (f. 39v).
Sommaire de l'ouvrageFirst folio is missing, [overview of the content of the five books] (2r).
The final section of the third chapter is missing, as well as the fourth (“derivación de los nombres verbales y de la composición de nombres con verbos”) and the fifth books, in which prosody/ accentuation is described (“se dara luz para colocar los acentos”) (f. 2r).
Preludio primero [about orthography/ the alphabet] (3r-4v); preludio segundo, about pronunciation (4v).
[Libro primero, la naturaleza del nombre, del pronombre, de su declinación, y de las preposiciones] (folios 5-8 are missing); primera declinación (9r-10v); advertencias/ reglas (10r-10v); segunda declinación (10v-11v); tercera declinación (11v); cuarta delcinación (12r); quinta declinación (12r-16v); de los relativos (16v) ego solus (paradigms in Totonac, Latin and Nahuatl, ambo (17r-v); hic haec hoc (17v-18r); cap. 3. de las preposiciones (18r-19v); § 1. del uso de las preposiciones simples (19v-18r);
[Libro segundo del verbo, y su conjugación, y de las formaciones de los tiempos] (folios 22-27 are missing) § primero de la nota o partícula Yc (28r-v); § segundo. De la forma con de las personas del presente de indicativo (28v-29v); § tercero. De la formación del pretérito imperfecto (29v-30r); § cuarto. De la formación del pretérito perfecto, excepción, reglas, notable (30r-32r); § quinto. De la formación del pluscuamperfecto (32v); § sexto. De la formación del futuro imperfecto (32v-37r). Cap. 2. de la conjugación indicativa, modo, tempore presenti (37r-39v); Cap. 3. del verbo pasivo (39v-42r); del impersonal y del recíproco (42r-v); Cap. 4. de los irregulares (43r-45r); Cap. 5. de la conjugación gerundiva (45v-46r).
Libro tercero en que se trata de la naturaleza de los Verbos y como pasan de una especie en otra y de ciertas dictions que usa esta lengua para todas las partes de la oración (46r-47r). Cap. 1. de la naturaleza del verbo intransitivo (47r-v); § de la naturaleza del verbo transtivo (47v-53v); Cap. 2. del verbo compulsivo (53v-57r); Cap. 3. del aplicativo (57r-58v); Cap. 4 de los semiverbos (58v-59v); § 1. semiverbo poton (59r-60r); § 2. de la calidad del semiverbo Palay (60r-v); § 3. de la calidad del semiverbo Tihlay (61r); § 4. de aquesta dicción Qui (61r-61r bis); § 5. de la calidad de estas dos dicciones Can y Ca (61r ter-62v); § 6. de la partícula La (62v); § 7. de la partícula Li (63r-v); § 8. de la partícula Po (63v-64v); § 9. de estas dos dicciones Lac, Nac (64v-66r); § 10. de la partícula Pi (66r-v); § 11. de la partícula Co (66v-67r); § 12. de la dicción o partícula Chi (67v); § 13. de estas partículas Mat, Max (67v-68r); § 14. de la partícula Ta (68r-71r).
Objectif de l'auteurIn the preliminary remarks (“preludio”), the author informs his readers that there were already circulating manuscripts related to this language. The author designed his work for beginners (“principiantes”) (f. 2v). The work is also written for those learners who have at least some basic knowledge of Nahuatl, although this not communicated explicitly in the prologue.
Intérêt généralThis is the earliest extant grammar of Totonac. The manuscript was possibly completed in the Franciscan convent of San Andrés Hueytlalpan where Andrés Olmos completed earlier his Nahuatl grammar. It has been documented that Olmos also composed a grammar and dictionary of Totonac (and later also Huastec), which are considered to have been lost. The anonymous author (or possibly Eugenio Romero) does not mention any previous source, so we cannot ascertain if this text has been inspired by earlier works, such as that of Olmos. As León-Portilla (1990, p. ix), the work is one of the earliest “comparative” grammars of the New World in which two indigenous languages are compared or contrasted. The anonymous author does not only give parallel paradigms Nahuatl and Totonac, but also analyses similarities and differences.
Unfortunately, the work is not complete and some folios are missing, following the observation in the second “preludio” where the author starts with the observation that this language has a “particular” pronunciation. Unfortunately, exactly these pages are missing, as the final section, the fifth book, which is devoted to the accents “colocar los acentos” (f. 2r). Another significant interest of this work is the author’s awareness of the morphosyntactic features of this language, which are described as follows: “.. va inserta en el mismo verbo” (f. 63r); auxiliaries are incorporated (“se incorporan”) in the verb (f. 59r).
Parties du discoursThere is no section at the beginning of the manuscript in which all the parts of speech are summed up. If we follow the order of the work, we find first a description of the noun, followed by “relatives” (no header entitled “pronoun”), followed by the demonstrative pronouns, prepositions, some particles, preceding the sections devoted to the verb, which is quite different from the canonical order of dealing with the parts of speech. Finally we find some descriptions of a selection of particles, also called “dictions”, and some of them labelled as “adverbios”. There are no separate paragraphs devoted to the participles, interjections and conjunctions, but it is not unlikely that they were included in the sections which have been lost. On folio 64v we find the term “conjunction” but the grammar is not designed in such a manner that we find paragraph, chapters, with headers for each part of speech, as occurs usually.
Innovations term.“Semiverbos” (“Usa esta lengua de unas dicciones de mucha importancia que según el efecto les viene muy a propósito llamarlas semiverbos, porque siendo de su naturaleza insignificables, si se ayuntan a otro verbos, hacen artificiosamente su conjugación y se incorporan de tal suerte con ellos que hacen y son una misma cosa porque se conjugan y forman de la mesma suerte y manera que los verbos regulares y enteros. Estos son tres, poton, palay, tihlay” (f. 59r) (Zwartjes 1998, p. 109-110).
In the Arte de la lengua totonaca some New-Spain metalinguistic terms are used. Some are probably derived from grammars of Nahuatl, such as the “verbos compulsivos”, “verbos aplicativos” (the root combined with dative/ benefactive markers), and “semipronombres” (f. 46v) other seems to be creations by the anonymous author (or maybe these terms were circulating in this region in the manuscripts of his predecessors). Some examples: “Preposiciones simples and preposiciones enteras” (i.e. combined with pronouns) (f. 20r); “partículas constitutivas de personas” (f. 29v); “aparte ante” ~ “aparte post” (f. 30v); “raíz” and “radicales” (f. 57r); “pues son la raíces de donde se forma toda la conjugación” (f. 41v); “verbos que significan movimiento y quietud” (f. 45v). The verb “acusar” with the meaning that a verb governs an accusative (47r).
Furthermore, the author distinguishes two types of transitive verbs, the absolute transitive, which is a transitive verb without a specified complement, and the transitive verb combined with a complement (direct or indirect): “verbo transitivo absolute” (f. 47v): “que es absolutamente Vage et indeterminate, significa que ad extra se exercita la accion del verbo Vg. ‘Yo amo’, ‘yo doy’, [el otro verbo transitivo]… exercita su operación en sujeto propio y adecuado, como Ego Amo Deum que finalmente es el que rige casos de persona que hace y padece” (f. 48r).
In other words, according to the anonymous author, two classes of Transitive construction have to be distinguished, a transitive verb without a filled direct object (but obligatorily marked in the verbal cluster), or a construction with a Direct Object (Deum) (as in Nahuatl nictlaçotla where -c- meaning: “aliquis, aliquid” is obligatory (“I love someone”), opposed to Nictlaçotla in Pedro where we find both -c- and the Direct Object (“I love someone, it is Pedro”) “rige expresamente el dativo o acusativo” (f. 48r). The expression ad extra is used opposed to ad intra, which is found in the definition of the intransitive verb, which does not govern a case: “que es aquel [verbo] cuya persona la acción ad intra que por decirlo en breves palabras, es el que no rige casos”. ‘Duermo’ (“I sleap”), ‘como’ (“I eat”), ‘vivo’ (“I live”). It is obvious here that in the Spanish examples, we find both intransitive and transitive verbs (comer, vivir), but the author attempts to describe a transitive verb without an expressed direct object (Aschman & Wonderly 1952).
The author also observes that “applicative verbs” (dative/ benefactive) govern two cases (“rigen dos cosas”) one implicit, within the verb, the other explicit. The author gives examples first in Nahuatl, followed by Totonac and Spanish translations (“el uno implícito en el mismo verbo, y el otro explícito, el primero es en quien la acción pasa, el segundo de aquel a quien se aplica Vg. Niccouilia ytilma yn Pedro compro la manta no a Pedro sino para Pedro Nicxamanilia ytzontecon Juan yo quiebro la cabeça a Juan”) (f. 58v). This text reveals that the author could have benefitted from earlier grammars of Nahuatl where similar constructions exist, in this case an areal feature.
Other less current terms are: “amfibología de sentido” (f. 42r); “adverbio moderativo” (f. 62r); “adverbios concedentes” (f. 67r); Ornato: “bordoncillos de los indios, con que parecen adornar algo más sus modos de hablar” (f. 66r) (“hem of a cloth which is used as embellishment”); “diccioncica”, the diminutive of “dicción”, which is used in order to designate a certain particle (f. 63v).
Corpus illustratifBilingual (Totonac-Spanish) and trilingual (Totonac-Latin-Nahuatl) paradigms. Examples in Totonac and Nahuatl.
Indications compl.
Influence subieAs has been observed by León-Portilla (1990, p. ix), the grammar follows the model of Antonio del Rincón’s grammar of Náhuatl, published in 1595. This is not unlikely, since the work also shares some specific terms, such as the “conjugación gerundiva” and the “semipronombres”. The anonymous author (or Eugenio Romero) seems to follow Rincón when he devotes two sections to the “verbos compulsivos” and “aplicativos”. Rincón’s definition of the “verbo aplicativo” is as follows: “… es el que significa la acción del verbo, donde desciende perteneciente a otro, a quien juntamente denote, atribuiéndosela por vía de daño o provecho quitándosela o poniéndosela, vg…” In the anonymous grammar of Totonac we find the same words almost verbatim: Verbo aplicativo “dar o quitar, por Ia de daño o provecho alguna cosa o alguno. Reteniendo siempre el sentido de su radical” (f. 57r).
Influence exercéeIn the Mazahua grammar of Nágera Yanguas (1637) we find the terms “partículas puestas à parte post” and “particulas à parte ante”, which do not occur frequently in missionary grammars of this period. We do not exclude the possibility that Nágera Yanguas could have seen the anonymous grammar of Totonac, where we find the same terms (or both grammarians had a common source). Although the anonymous work seems to have been lost for centuries, we do not exclude the possibility that Zambrano Bonilla may have used or seen it. I base this assumption on the fact that the anonymous devotes special sections to the so-called “semiverbos”, starting with Poton, and secondly Palay followed by Tihlay and Liquiuin. Zambrano Bonilla deals with these three verbs in a slightly different order. On the other hand, Zambrano deals with more “semiverbs” (mah and taquiy Zambrano Bonilla, 1752, f. 44), not found in the anonymous. This is one of the few correspondences, which could mean that the two grammars of Totonac were both inspired or influenced by other sources. It is also obvious that most sections are completely different. One example is the treatment of the particles. Zambrano does not only give a totally different list, compared with the anonymous author, but also when the same particle is described, we find a totally different definition (as for instance the particle Can and ca (f. 61r ter), described in terms as “adverbio moderativo”. The anonymous explains that Ca is also changed to Ça with the function of “conjugación disiunctiva y adverbio interrogante”, whereas Zambrano Bonilla demonstrates that this particle signifies “involuntariedad o arrepentimiento en el agente” (involuntarity or regret in the agent”). On the other hand, there are some correspondences: “particle qui: … significa movimiento assi yendo como viniendo” (anonymous f. 61r bis), and “ántepuesta à los verbos, los haze movimiento…. Significan acción, o movimiento, aun en cosas contrarias, cuales son ir y venir” (Zambrano Bonilla 1752, p. 105) and the particle ta which is used as somitative: “el principal es significar cooperación, simultad y compañía” (anonymous f. 68v); and “ta significa con, y denota compañía, y conjunción” (Zambrano Bonilla 1752, p. 106).
Renvois bibliographiques→ Références
Antonio N. 1783 {[1783]}; Aschmann H. & Wonderly W. L. 1952; Beristáin y Souza J. M. 1821; González Dávila G. 1649; León-Portilla M. 1990; Levy P. & Beck D. (éd.) 2012; Mackay C. J. & Trechsel F. R. 2015; McQuown N. A. (éd.) 1990 {[Anonymous, end 16th]}; McQuown N. A. 1990; Morales Lara S. 2008; Nágera y Yanguas D. de 1637; Ridruejo E. A. 2008; Troiani D. 2007; Zwartjes O. 1998

Zwartjes, Otto

Création ou mise à jour2018-12