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Luces del Otomi


DomaineTraditions non-occidentales
SecteurGrammaires amérindiennes [4654]

Internet Archive (éd. 1893)

BV Miguel de Cervantes (éd. 1893)



Datation: fl. 1767

The anonymous author of Luces del Otomí was a Jesuit (S.J.), since the work contains a “dedicatoria” to Ignacio de Loyola (Buelna 1893, p. vi). The anonymous author summarises what others wrote about this language. He gives an eclectic summary of Otomi language instruction and focuses on the didactic program as it was practiced at the “Hospital Real” in Mexico City, where he seemed to have learned the language. In the “Hospital Real” native speakers of Otomi participated coming from different regions (Lastra 1992, p. 464). The author tells his readers that he started studying manuscripts on Otomi in 1752 and that the most recent work he has seen was the one written by Luis de Neve y Molina (1767). This means that the work is completed post 1767. The manuscript was found in Tepozotlán.


Buelna, Eustaquio

Datation: 1830-1907

Eustaquio Buelna, the editor of the Luces, was a lawyer, politician, philologist and historian, born in Villa de Mocorito in September 30th, 1830. He was “diputado del Congreso”, “secretario del gobierno” and “gobernadora del Estado de Sinaloa”. Apart from the anonymous work Luces del otomí, he edited other missionary works, such as the Arte de la lengua cahita (1890) (Zimmermann 2012, p. 63). For more information see Román Alarcón (1994).

Titre de l'ouvrageLuces del Otomí, ó Gramática del idioma que hablan los indios otomíes en la República Mexicana. Compuesta por un padre de la Compañía de Jesús. Publicada bajo los auspicios del Sr. Lic. D. Manuel Romero Rubio, Secretario de Gobernación, por el Licenciado Eustaquio Buelna Magistrado de la Suprema Corte de Justicia y miembro de la Sociedad Mexicana de Geografía y Estadística, poseedor del manuscrito relativo
Titre traduitLights on Otomi or grammar of the language spoken by the Otomi Indians in the Mexican Republic
Titre courtLuces del Otomi
Remarques sur le titreThe word “lights” (“luces”) refers to the illustrious authors who documented Otomi or wrote texts in this language. One Ms of Sánchez de la Baquera also bears the title “Luz y guya para leer, escrebyr, pronuncyar y saber la lengua Othomy”. The title indicates, according to Zimmermann (2012, p. 71), its historiographical character, completely different in style and discourse from contemporary tools composed in this period.
Période|18e s.|
Type de l'ouvrageThe title is different from what is usual in missionary linguistics: “Luces del otomí, o gramática…”. It is a remarkable book, different from what we usually see in this period. As Zimmermann (2012, p. 60) demonstrates, the work is not a grammar in the strict sense, but rather a historiographical work describing, summarising, and sometimes criticising previous grammars on Otomi in 6 books. As Zimmermann (1997, p. 116) sustains, the author of Luces del otomí gives summaries of previous work on Otomi. The authors mentioned by name are Eusebio de Escamilla (who was “catedrático de la Universidad de México), Ignacio Santoyo (“capellán del Hospital Real y sinodal del otomí), the Jesuit Horacio Carochi, the famous author of one of the best grammars of Nahuatl, Francisco Jiménez, Juan Sánchez de la Baquera and finally, Luis de Neve y Molina. The work deals with phonology and orthography, morphosyntax and includes several vocabularies. He includes the Vocabulary of Neve y Molina and the one from Sánchez de la Baquera, from which he also composed another in inversed order. The work also includes catechisms, such as the catechism of the Jesuit Bartolomé Castaño, which were used in the “Hospital Real” (chapter 28). Another text includes translations from Jerónimo Ripalda’s catechism (chapter 29).
Type indexéCommentaire grammatical | Dictionnaire | Grammaire descriptive | Orthoépie | Somme grammaticale | Texte religieux | Traité grammatical
Édition originaleThe manuscript was probably finished before 1767, the year the Jesuits were expelled from the Spanish territories. Since the anonymous author includes Neve y Molina’s work which appeared in 1767, it is likely that this anonymous was completed the same year, and as Zimmermann (2012, p. 61) argues, the anonymous author does not include works which appeared after this date (e.g. Guadalupe Ramírez 1785; López Yepes 1826). We can add to this list the work of Antonio de Agreda, completed in 1770, which is not included either in the overview of the anonymous author of the Luces. Nevertheless, according to Guerrero Galván (2013, p. 38), the date of completion was probably ca. 1770.
Édition utiliséeEd. Buelna, E. 1893. México: Imprenta del Gobierno Federal.
VolumétrieAccording to Buelna, the original manuscript contained 489 pages. The John Carter Brown Library gives the following measurements of Buelna’s edition: ix, [1], 303, [1] p. ; 22 cm.
Nombre de signes38000
Reproduction moderneEd. Gaxiola López (2004).
Langues ciblesOtomí (Otomanguean family, Otopamean branch).
Otomí is a Nahuatl exonym. As endonym, today hñähnu is used (also spelled as hñäñho), spelled as ñâñû or njiânhiû (language of travellers, or the language of those who speak through the nose “lengua de caminantes”, “lengua de los que hablan por la nariz”) the Luces (p. 7). As Zimmermann (2012, p. 66-67) demonstrates, the author pays attention – quite unsystematically, according to a modern perspective- to various subfields of linguistics (avant la lettre), such as pragmatics, sociolinguistics, stylistics and diatopical variation. According to Guerrero Galván (2013, p. 79), the texts provide information on several varieties of the language.
MétalangueCastilian (Spanish) and sometimes Latin (as in the titles of some chapters, the pronouns, some verbs are given in both languages (Ser, sum es fui/ Poder, possum potes, etc.). Occasionally, we find references to Hebrew, referring to the use of diacritics, derived from the texts of Carochi and the Proverbios written by a professor of Hebrew teaching in Rome, Cornelio Alapide’s (Cornelius van den Steen, S.J.; 1567-1637) (p. 84).
Langue des exemplesOtomí
Sommaire de l'ouvrageConcise grammar, preceded by a “prólogo del autor” and several word-lists arranged in 6 books. Book 1 contains grammatical notes divided into 22 chapters (p. [4]-29).
Libro primero:: de las que se divisaron en la Universidad y Hospital Reales de la Corte de México. Cap. 1: del origen de este idioma (3-5); Cap. 2: del nombre de este idioma (6-7); Cap. 3: Luces que daba D. Eusebio Escamilla, catedrático en la Real Universidad (8-9); Cap. 4: Luces que daban unos presbíteros, discípulos de D. Ignacio Santoyo, capellán del Hospital Real, y sinodal de este idioma (9-10); Cap. 5: Siguen las luces del Hospital Real (10-11); Cap. 6: Caracteres que usaban en dicho Hospital Real (11-12); Cap. 7: Del número singular y plural (13); Cap. 8: De la raíz del nombre (14-15); Cap. 9: De los pronombres primitivos (15-16); Cap. 10: De los adjetivos éste, el mismo, etc. (en latín iste, ipse) (16); Cap. 11: Alguna luz de los posesivos mio, tuyo, suyo, nuestro, vuestro (meus, tuus, suus, noster, vester), y algo del relativo que (qui, quæ, quod) (16-17); Cap. 12: Tenue luz de adjetivos y apelativos (17-18); Cap. 13: Luz del verbo Ser (Sum, es fui) (presente de indicativo, pretérito imperfecto, futuro imperfecto, imperativo, presente de indicativo, pretérito imperfecto, pretérito perfecto, futuro imperfect (19-20); Cap. 14: Luces del verbo Poder (possum potes) (21); Cap. 15: Luces de la conjugación general, ejemplar de los demás verbos (21-24); Cap. 16: Algunas luces de la mutaciones que tienen los verbos en las teceras personas (24); Cap. 17: Luz escasa de la síncopa de los verbos (25); Cap. 18: Luces del me, te, se, le (25-26); Cap. 19: Luz tenue de algunas preposiciones (27); Cap. 20: Luz de algunos adverbios (28); Cap. 21: Luz de conjunción (28-29); Cap. 22: Luz del participio e interjección (29). The section which follows the grammar is the dictionary, entitled “Diccionario que usaban los Eclesiásticos del Hospital Real” (29-61). It is a Spanish-Otomi vocabulary, arranged in alphabetical order and not according to the parts of speech, terms for body parts (61-64), and kinship terms (64-66), all Spanish to Otomi; a catechism and prayers in both languages, including the Señal de la cruz, Padre nuestro, Ave Maria, Credo, Salve, Ten Commandments, Mandamientos de la ley de Dios, Mandamientos de la Santa Madre Iglesia, Sacramentos, and Artículos de la fe (67-77).
Libro segundo contains texts attributed to Fathers Horacio Carochi y Francisco Jiménez of the Society of Jesús, and Juan Sánchez de la Baquera, “secular de Tula”; a list of adverbs; and a Spanish-Otomí dictionary compiled from Juan Sánchez de la Baquera ([79]-116).
Libro tercero contains data derived from “D. Luis de Neve, presbítero, sinodal de este Arzobispado”, and an Otomí-Spanish “Diccionario de nombres y verbos” ([117]-179).
Libro cuarto consists of an Otomi-Spanish dictionary corresponding to the Spanish-Otomi vocabulary listed in Book 1 as well as terms in use by the “presbíteros del Hospital Real” ([181]-213).
Libro quinto consists of an Otomi-Spanish dictionary corresponding to the Spanish-Otomi list in Book 2 along with terms from Juan Sánchez de la Baquera and his disciples ([215]-230).
Libro sexto (adicional) is an Addendum, ([231]-287) and contains the Spanish-Otomi version of the dictionary in Book 3. Contains table of contents.
Objectif de l'auteurAs per Zimmermann (2012, p. 61), the explicit aims of the anonymous author are rather vague. It was not the main objective of the author to contribute to the history of linguistic ideas, but there is no doubt that even when this was not the main objective, the work did contribute to the history of descriptive linguistics. The anonymous author summarises the most important descriptions of Otomí. The objective of the editor, Eustaquio Buelna, are in agreement with one of the aims of the “Sociedad Mexicana de Geografía y Estadística”, the publication of descriptive studies of indigenous languages of Mexico (Zimmermann 2012, p. 63). Notwithstanding, some aims are not vague at all. In the prologue we read that one of his main goals was to compose the best eclectic manual in order to learn this language, when the learner does not have to opportunity to listen to natives (“a falta de viva voz”). More didactic principles are formulated on page 121 (“Advertencia”). The best way to learn a language is listing how people speak (“El major y más breve modo de aprender un idioma, es oyendo hablar en él”). Without such an opportunity to listen to the natives, translation is the best way to learn, in order to understand the language, and in order to speak it (“Cuando falta esta proporción, es más á propósito la traducción, así para entenderlo, como para hablarlo”) (see also p. 230). Another goal, expressed by the author is the standardization of the alphabet, giving preference to the spelling used by Neve y Molina (p. 230).
Intérêt généralAn early source which is relevant for the history of language sciences. Descriptive (and often also critical) overview of previous works on Otomí. Thanks to this source, we have can construct certain lost works on Otomí, such as the grammar of Horacio Carochi and Eusebio Escamilla and others (Guerrero Galván 2013, p. 149). Some information is given on pragmatics (“hablando con inferiores, sin especial urbanidad”, “hablar con un animal”).
Parties du discoursThe eight parts of speech are not summarised, but the author follows the canonical order. In his final paragraph (chapter 22), he decides to include both the participle and the interjection together in the same section.
Innovations term.The book is a compilation of previous works and does not introduce innovative metalinguistic terms.
Eusebio Escamilla, catedrático en la Real Universidad (Chapter 3, p. 8) distinguishes 13 “pronunciaciones”: natural, guttural, narigal, hueca, indiferente, espirada, dental fuerte, dental suave, xixeada, ttzeada, tzeteada, detenida y rezongada.
(Referring to Horacio Carochi and Francisco Jiménez): “castañeta… pegando la lengua a los dientes de abajo, abriendo la boca y hacienda mediana fuerza a la garganta” (p. 81).
Pronunciation “como en el mexicano, con silbidillo” (“as in Nahuatl, with a little whistle”); “el resuello en la garganta” (“with breathing/ aspiration in the throat”) (p. 83); The symbol ^: “orquilla” (“little fork”), “narigueta” (“nosed”/ “nosy”) (p. 84).
(Referring to Sánchez de la Baquera): “pectoral primera, [ectoral segunda, tercera, cuarta quinta)” (p. 89-91). Although Sánchez de la Baquera does not use the concept of “tone”, the anonymous author of the Luces summarizes the work of Sánchez de la Baquera, using the concept of tone (tono), although with a different meaning: “Juan Sánchez de la Naquera conoció y enseñó más de treinta tonos, con que se habla este idioma con perfección. Asimismo inventó más de doscientas partículas ó caracteres, para expresar dichos tonos”. Here the concept of “tono” means “pronunciations”.
(Referring to Sánchez de la Baquera): “concomitancias” (p. 96).
(Referring to Neve y Molina): “castañuela”, “saltillo”, “virulita” (p. 120).
Corpus illustratifOtomí.
Indications compl.
Influence subieThe anonymous author refers to the following predecessors: Horacio Carochi, Francisco Jiménez, Eusebio de Escamilla, Ignacio Santoyo and his disciples, Juan Sánchez de la Baquera and his disciples and Luis Neve y Molina. For the reading of the Christian Doctrine, the text of Bartolomé Castaño is used (p. 67). For other religious texts, the Catechism of Ripalda (p. 71) served as model (only the works of Sánchez de la Baquera and Luis Neve y Molina are conserved until today). The anonymous author tells his readers that in 1752 he acquired the grammar of Carochi in Tepozotlán, he made a copy of it but lost both the original and the copy. His orthography was mainly based on the work of Francisco Jiménez. His work was also based on the data of some papers which were used in San Luis de la Paz (Guerrero Galván 2013, p. 207).
Influence exercéeUnknown.
Renvois bibliographiques→ Références
Agreda A. de 1770; Buelna E. (éd.) 1893 {[ca 1767]}; Gaxiola López J. (éd.) 2004 {[post 1767]}; Guadalupe Ramírez A. de 1785; Guerrero Galván A. 2013; Lastra Y. 1992; López Yepes J. 1826; Neve y Molina L. de 1767; Sánchez de la Baquera J. 1747; Zimmermann K. 2012

Zwartjes, Otto

Création ou mise à jour2018-09