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Arte de la lengua mixe

Quintana, Augustin de

DomaineTraditions non-occidentales
SecteurGrammaires amérindiennes [4678]

Internet Archive (Instrucción christiana, éd. 1729)

Internet Archive (Doctrina Christiana, éd. 1729)

Internet Archive (Confessonario, éd. 1733)


Quintana, Augustin de

Datation: ca 1660-1734

Born in Mexico, in Antequera, the capital of Oaxaca around 1660, Augustin de Quintana entered the Dominican order (O.P.) in 1688 and was sent to the missions of the Mixe people. Quintana tells his readers in the prologue of the Instrucción Christiana that he spent his entire youth in the Nación Mixe (“passê toda mi juventud”), i.e. 28 years in total. He was appointed superior of the convent of Zacavilla and for reasons of health, he retired to the convent of the Dominicans in Antequera where he completed his work on and in the Mixe language. Three printed works have been conserved Instrucción christiana and Doctrina christiana both published in 1729 and the Confessonario which appeared in 1733.

Titre de l'ouvrageArte de la lengua mixe
Titre traduitGrammar of the Mixe language
Titre courtArte de la lengua mixe
Remarques sur le titreQuintana published three different works, (I) Instrucción christiana, (II) Doctrina Christiana and (III) Confessonario. The Arte is not published as a separate work. The interest of Quintana for CTLF is mainly found in two sections, “Modo de hablar la lengua mixe” and “Arte de la lengua mixe”. In the Doctrina a section is included entitled “Advertencia á Principiantes” (p. 56), which contains a grammatical and morphological analysis of Mixe texts. We will see that all the relevant sections in this entry on the Mixe language are collected from these three books, such as “anotaciones” and other fragments.
Période|18e s.|
Type de l'ouvrageChristian doctrinal texts, confession, as has been explained, the “Arte” is not an independent publication. Confessionario, doctrina christiana, instrucción cristiana, and an embedded “Arte” (grammar).
Type indexéGrammaire descriptive | Grammaire didactique | Grammaire élémentaire | Texte religieux
Édition originaleI: (Instrucción) Puebla: por la Viuda de Miguel Ortega Bonilla, 1729. II: (Doctrina Christiana) Puebla: Por la viuda de Miguyel de Ortgea, 1729. III: (Confessonario) Puebla: Por la Viuda de Miguel de Ortega, 1733.
Édition utiliséeI: Instrucción Christiana: John Carter Brown, call nr. BA729.Q6i. II: Confessonario: John Carter Brown, call. nr. B733.Q7c. III: Doctrina Christiana: John Carter Brown, call. nr. BA729.Q7d.
VolumétrieI: Instrucción Christiana: [60], 232, 232-550, [25]: ill.; 22 cm. (in-8°). Text in Spanish and Mixe. Woodcut image (head-piece) with dedication “A la Soberana Emperatriz del Cielo Maria Santissima del Rosario”, flanked by rows of printer's ornaments; title in double ornamental border, emblem of the Order of Santo Domingo at bottom of t.p. and repeated on f. 3V4 v° and armorial of the order on v° of leaf signature 8; ornamental initials and tail-pieces. Preliminary leaves include: Modo de hablar la lengua mixe, Arte de la lengua mixe, and Notas del arte. Tabla de los capitulos, que contienè la instruccion christiana; Indice de las cosas notables de la instruccion christiana.
II. Doctrina Christiana: [12], 128, [4] p.: ill., 21 cm (in-4°). Dedication, licenses and caption titles in Spanish; text in Mixe; half t.p. (p. 13) for “Declaracion de los principales misterios de la fee”, with the text set in Spanish and Mixe in double columns; half t.p. (p. 55) for “Tratado de la confession sacramental, y modo de confessarse, en lengua mixe.” Final two leaves have “Tabla de todo lo contenido en este quaderno”; Title in double ornamental border (printer's ornaments), emblem of the Order of Santo Domingo at bottom of t.p., woodcut image of Santo Domingo de Guzman on t.p. v°, with legend: Lumen ecclesiae doctor veritatis.
III. Confessonario: [16], 148, [4] p.: ill., 21 cm (in-4°). Preliminaries in Spanish; text in Spanish and Mixe in parallel columns. Title in double ornamental border, emblem of the Order at bottom of t.p., woodcut image of the dedicatee St. Vicente Ferrer on t.p. v°, emblem of the Order of Santo Domingo on p. 124, elaborate woodcut tail-piece on final leaf v°; head-pieces (printer's ornaments). Errata.
Nombre de signes36000
Reproduction moderneNo recent editions.
DiffusionThe Confessonario was republished in 1890 by Hyacinthe, Comte de Charencey in 1888 and 1890. The Arte de la lengua Mixe was also published by Francisco Belmar in 1891.
Langues ciblesMixe. (“Mòhtùau”, also spelled as “Mohtûau”, which is the most common of the three Mixe languages (“mas general”), also called “the real Mixe language” (“la mera lengua Mohtûau”). The author mentions the glottonym “Mohtùau” and comments upon some dialectal differences in “Pueblos de Atitlan, Quezaltepeque, Cacalotepeque, Altopeque, y todos los Pueblos que estan en aquella Cordillera”, where the language has different features, compared with the variety in Xuquila. The Mixes altos de Nexapä speak Mòhtùau differently. Today the language is called “Ayook” (also “ayuujk”). Note: In fact, the target language of many parts in these three books is Spanish, since the author explicitly explains the readers that the original was written first in Mixe, and then translated into Spanish. Some of the texts in the Doctrina were in Mixe without a Spanish translation. Another interesting feature of the Confessonario is the fact that the indigenous language is the source text, which is translated ‘as well as possible’, as we can read on the first numbered page: “Confessonario en lengua Mixe. El qual, primero se hizo en la Lengua al modo de los Naturales, y despues se traduxo en Castellano, del mejor modo possible” (p. 1; emphasis is mine). Apparently, Quintana did not only try to find the best translation of Spanish religious terms into Mixe, but he also concluded that the translation must be the best possible rather than being perfect, admitting that certain concepts were at least partially untranslatable. The Mixe text must be natural, and the Spanish version was only added as a tool for the missionary who teaches or learns Mixe. Therefore, at one point Quintana warned his readers that the Spanish and Mixe texts could not correspond precisely, although they did so in substance. He observes that even St. Augustine used ‘barbarisms’ when necessary for a better understanding of the Christian message it is better for the grammarian to be criticized than for the ignorant not to understand. He goes on to say that the Spanish in the translations is extremely ‘vulgar, coarse and crude’ (“llano, tosco, y basto”) and that its syntax is often ‘in the Indian style’: perhaps the translations will be found ridiculous, but Quintana would prefer to be ridiculous than to neglect his missionary duty (Zwartjes 2014, p. 27-32)
Métalangue“Castellano” (Spanish). The term “romance” is also used
Langue des exemplesMixe. Some examples are taken from “high variety”. A certain “particle” neit is omitted when speakers speak “civilized”/“polite” (“quando los Naturales hablan con pulidez, no usan de la particula neit”)
Sommaire de l'ouvrageI. Instrucción Cristiana. Prologo. Modo de hablar la lengua mixe (no numbered pages/folios) (5 pages). Arte de la lengva mixe (no page/folio numbers) 31 pages. Del nombre, del nombre substantivo, del nombre adjetivo, de los comparativos y superlativos, del pronombre, de los possessivos, de los demostrativos, de los reciprocos, de los interrogativos, de los absolutos, materia del verbo, de los gerundios, tiempos de Siendo, y haviendo, del participio, de la preposicion, del advervio, de la interjecion, de la conjuncion (copulativa y disiunctiva). Nota 1. Verbos compulsivos; Nota 2. verbos reiterativos; Nota 3. El verbo Hahuipôtz; Nota 4. El verbo Hahuipôtz (imperativo), Nota 5. Particula Mo (rogando ò suplicando); Nota 6. Notes regarding different forms for the future imperfect, indicative in different local varieties, Nota 8. El verbo Ayooioötz and its compounds; Nota 9. El qué despues de Verbos de entendimiento, Nota 10. Some particles and adverbs, Nota 11. A- before nouns marks “duplication”; Nota 12. Particle ay “antes de” Nota 13. Particle Co; Nota 13. The use of singular instead of the plural; Nota 15. The meaning of the concept of Hothuann (Sabiduria, Ciencia, Prudencia, etc.). (the word occurs so frequently in the texts that the author decides to include this as a separate ‘note’ in his grammar. Finally, in the same note the author explains some minimal pairs with different meaning, the difference between Quexpôtz, written with one single “e” and without diphthong, meaning ‘to send’ (‘enviar’), Quêxpòtz with diphtong means ‘to finish’ (‘acabarse’), and Queexpòtz with two e's. without diphthong, means ‘to give birth’, ‘to be born’ (‘parir’, ‘nacer’). This means that Quintana closes his grammatical treatise with the same topic as Rincón, but the latter included long lists with minimal pairs. Here Quintana only gives one example.
II. The content of the Confessonario. Preliminaries in Spanish. Text of Confessonario [sic] (p. 1-78) in Spanish and Mixe in parallel columns, concluding with brief inspirational texts in Spanish, is followed by a list of kinship terms for use in confession (p. 80-84). The second major section consists of various doctrinal texts in Mixe accompanied by detailed line-by-line analysis in Spanish: Forma de persignarse, Padre Nuestro, Ave Maria, Credo, Salve, Mandamientos del Decalogo, Mandamientos de la Iglesia, Sacramentos, Articulos de la fee, Obras de misericordia, Confession general, Acto de contricion, Bendito (p. 85-123). Concluding the volume, the “Compendio de vozes mixes util para comenzar a estudiar la lengua mixe” contains several Mixe vocabulary lists with Spanish equivalents: 140 terms arranged according to 7 phonetic groupings.
Objectif de l'auteurQuintana wrote his “Arte” and “modo de hablar la lengua”, las Notas y la Traduccion de los Capitulos into Spanish for beginners (Principiantes en este Idioma Mixe). There are also some grammatical notes included in the Doctrina (1729, p. 56 and 125-126). Quintana decided not to include too many “advertencias” in this work, because that would make the work too extensive (“otras muchas advertencias podian ponerse, para intelegencia de este Quaderno; pero por no acrecentar la obra, no se ponen”) (p. 126). It is remarkable that Quintana informs his readers explicitly why he wrote his Confessonario. As we may expect, these religious texts were made primarily for the missionaries in order to preach or to listen to the confessions of the indigenous people. Quintana stresses that the main objective of writing his Confessonario was not ‘to teach morality’, but ‘to teach the Mixe language’. Apparently, the examples of confessions could be increased, and therefore they have to be seen as ancillary tools in the acquisition of Mixe. Therefore, Quintana observes that he did not put “everything in it”, that must be asked to the “Naturales”, but rather the Mixe phrases, which can be used, mutatis mutandis, for asking everything one desires.
Intérêt généralThe prologue contains information about three varieties of the Mixe language Mòhtùau, Cotùn and Huhmàh, all called “lenguas”. The language documented by Quintana is Mòhtùau, which is understood by all, but others do not understand Cotùn and Huhmàh. The system of pronominal (personal) prefixes in Mixe is complex. As Wichman observes: There are person markers for transitive and for intransitive verbs. The transitive distinguish between “direct” and “inverse”. Direct person markers are used when first, second, or third person is acting on an entity lower in the hierarchy 1 > 2 > 3 > 4. The inverse marking set is used in the opposite situation. There is a “fourth person”, which is a third-person who ranks lower in the hierarchy than some other third-person participant in the action described by the verb (Wichmann 1995, p. 90). Direct transitive, inverse transitive and intransitive forms are also divided into two sets, “dependent” and “independent” (ibid.). Quintana did not describe the entire system, but the distinction between two types of pronominal prefixes (second and third person) is made, those which co-occur with transitive and those with intransitive verbs. Firstly, he gives a definition of the pronominal prefix, in his terminology “pronombres primitivos simples”, “simple primitive pronouns”: Those which only consist of only one letter and which cannot be used independently. The pronoun x- (second person) (in the real Mixe language Mohtûau ix-) and t- are used in “oraciones primeras de activa” and the first one (ix) is also used for first person of the Passive (“Dios me ama”). Quintana seems to use the term “oraciones primeras” for “independent” (the dichotomy dependent/ independent was invented by Larry Clark. “Dependent” paradigm usually occurs with verbs that are subordinate, according to Wichmann (ibid.) marking “background”, opposed to “independent”, marking foreground in discourse. The term “oraciones primeras” can be interpreted as “cláusulas principales”, since “oración secundaria” is used as synonym for “subordinada”.
Another distinction made by Quintana is inclusive ~ exclusive: Atoim is “so universal that it contains, embraces, includes the person with whom one speaks” (Atoim “es tan universal, que comprehende, incluye, y abraza tambien à la persona con quien se habla”). (Quintana devotes a large section with examples, with possible misunderstandings in communication).
Quintana's work is also interesting for other reasons. His work is not a traditional “Arte” which has to be combined with a “vocabulary” and religious texts in the teaching of Mixe. Translation plays a prominent role in Quintana's teaching method and it is significant that Mixe comes first, with Spanish in second place. “Corrupt” Spanish is acceptable in translation, as long as it serves to explain how Mixe syntax works. The semantical and morphosyntactic analysis in the annotated translation is an important tool in Quintana's method (Zwartjes 2015). The translation is accompanied by rules related to phonology and pronunciation (such as the occurence of “syncopated” forms) and in morphology, he analyzes compound forms, distinguishing meaningful segments and derivational processes, such as the affixation of ‘particles’. In semantics, different connotations of the words are analyzed with great precision.
The phonology of Mixe is relatively complex. Quintana introduces some specific diacrtics. One is only used in Confessonario the diacrticial mark which looks like an eye “señal a modo de ojo”. Nevertheless, phonology is a subject which is understudied by Quintana. It is not impossible that he was able to recognize most – if not all – phonemes of Mixe, but it was not his aim to describe every detail in this short compendium. The real pronunciation had to be acquired by “listening to the Naturals”. Probably, native speakers participated directly in the teaching and learning of Mixe which made a full written and theoretical approach less relevant, according to the view of Quintana. Quintana informs his readers that it is not possible to explain how these diphthongs are pronounced (“no se puede explicar por escrito”), but it is strongly advised to listen to the native speakers (“es menester atender à como los Naturales los pronuncian”(Doctrina 1729, f. 56-128); the same observation in the section “Modo de hablar la lengua Mixe”.
Finally, an important contribution of Quintana to the history of Mesoamerican (and even beyond) lexicography is his “Índice de las cosas notables de la instruccion christiana”. As I observed, Quintana did not decide to compose a dictionary. All dictionaries that followed Nebrija strictly were not always fully equipped with the necessary vocabulary which was needed in the daily practices of the mission (Zwartjes 2016). Quintana's index is a practical tool where the learners could find a Spanish word, and immediately a context with phrases in Mixe where and how the term is used.
Parties du discoursThis language has according to Quintana all the eight parts of speech, but none of them are declinable (“todas las ay en esta Lengua, pero ninguna de ellas es declinable”): Nombre, pronombre, verbo, participio, preposicion, adverbio, interjecion, y conjuncion (no folio/ page numbers). In the section devoted to prepositions, Quintana observes that these in fact “particulas que corrsponen à Preposiciones”.
Innovations term.Verbo compulsivo. Although established earlier in Nahuatl grammars, the term appears here also in a grammar of Mixe. In the Doctrina (1729, f. 14v), a symbol is introduced which is not used in the other works of Mixe, neither in the first section of the Doctrina. The symbol is only used in the section “Dios yhanchha hviñ misterios ñiquehn” (“Declaracion de los principales misterios de la fee”),in the section entitled “protestacion de la fee” and in the “Tratado de la confession sacramental y modo de confessonarse en lengua mixe” (p. 55-128). Quintana explains the value of this diacritic called “señal a modo de ojo” in an “Advertencia” preceding the “declaración”. The diacritic mark which looks like an eye: Pȏ̇ntȏ̇ tcȏ̇pȗ̇ic. When this symbol is placed on top of the vowel, it represents a diphthong (“toda vocal, que tiene encima vna señal a modo de ojo, es Diptongo”). It is not the clear vowel (as known in Spanish), but the as it is pronounced by the natives (“como los Naturales la pronuncian”. In the Instrucción Christiana only a circumflex is used, not the “señal a modo de ojo”.
Corpus illustratifNot many texts are included in the Arte. The real “illustrative corpus” are the texts Instrucción christiana, Doctrina christiana and the confessonario accompanied by (annotated translations.
Indications compl.
Influence subieAccording to the prologue, the Instrucción Christiana follows the models of the Dominican Luis de Granada (1505-1588), the Jesuit Juan Eusebio Ni[e]remberg (1595-1658) and the Dominican Jayme (=Jaime) Baro (=Baron) y Arin (1657-1734). In the grammar there is a section devoted to the ‘verbos compulsivos’, a category which is introduced in the grammars of Nahuatl. There is a possibility that Quintana has seen the grammar of Zoque of Luis González (their definition of the “nombre/pronombre primitivo” is quite similar) (Ruz 1997, p. 33).
Influence exercéeUnknown.
Renvois bibliographiques→ Références
Belmar F. (éd.) 1891; Belmar F. 1902; Charencey H. de (éd.) 1890; Gónzalez L. 1997 {[1672]}; Quintana A. de 1729; Quintana A. de 1729; Quintana A. de 1733; Wichmann S. 1995; Zwartjes O. 2014; Zwartjes O. 2016

Zwartjes, Otto

Création ou mise à jour2017-05