CTLF Corpus de textes linguistiques fondamentaux • IMPRIMER • RETOUR ÉCRAN
CTLF - Menu général - Notices

Arte breve de la lengua otomi

Urbano, Alonso de

DomaineTraditions non-occidentales
SecteurGrammaires amérindiennes [4652]

Urbano, Alonso de

Datation: ca 1522-1608

In the title: Arte breve de la lengua compuesta por el p[adr]e fray Alonso Urbano de la Orden de N.P.S. Augustin (f. 1r) (O.S.A.). As Acuña (1990, p. xxi) demonstrates, this is an error made by the scribe who was probably an Augustinian, since the name Alonso Urbano does not appear in any chronicle of the order of the Augustinians, whereas his name appears frequently in Franciscan sources. His name appears in documents of the Inquisition in 1569. The main source for Urbano’s biography is Torquemada (Acuña 1990, p. xxii-xxiii). According to Torquemada, Urbano was born around 1522 in Mondéjar (Reino de Toledo), but in Guerrero Galván we find the year 1529 (2013, p. 120). In 1554, he was ordained as a priest of the order of Saint Francis in the convent of San Juan de los Reyes, Toledo. He studied Artes and Theology (“Artes y Teología”) and travelled to New Spain in 1557, where he learned Nahuatl and Otomi. Not much is known about his life, except that he was “guardián” in Tulantzinco, and that he preached in Tlaxcalla and in Tepejí del Río and several other missions (Tezcoco, Puebla, México, Tula). He died in Tula de Allende (Hidalgo) in September 1608. His work was never printed, but a manuscript copy is conserved in the Bibliothèque National de France, Paris. The anonymous Ms is finished in 1605, but according to Lastra (1992, p. 460), Urbano finished the work after 1580, since she demonstrated that the influence of Cáceres is present. According to Acuña (1990, p. lxiv), the Arte was completed before 1571, the year the first edition of Molina’s Arte appeared.

Titre de l'ouvrageArte breve de la lengua otomi
Titre traduitBrief grammar of the Otomi language
Titre courtArte breve de la lengua otomi
Remarques sur le titre
Période|16e s.|
Type de l'ouvrageManuscript. Trilingual dictionary Spanish-Nahuatl-Otomi preceded by a descriptive grammar, which concentrates on the eight parts of speech.
Type indexéDictionnaire | Grammaire descriptive | Grammaire didactique | Grammaire élémentaire
Édition originaleThe anonymous scribe finished his work in 1605. In the colophon of the trilingual dictionary (f. 419v), the date is mentioned explicitly “Acabose este Vocabulario a 29 de otubre de 1605”. The Arte does not have a colophon (only the word “FINIS”) and according to Acuña (1990, p. xxii) the Arte and the anonymous Vocabulary are two different works, and it is obvious that the Ms is not written by Urbano himself. Acuña demonstrates that the copy of Molina’s bilingual dictionary Spanish-Nahuatl of 1555, housed in the National Library of Mexico (signature F.R. PM4066/ M72/ 1555) contains glosses in Otomi, is written by Alonso Urbano (Acuña 1990, p. xxxi); the hand is identical to other documents written by the Franciscan. This is the only original linguistic work written by Urbano himself (probably made between 1557 and 1560), not written for the purpose of being published. The scribe was probably a native speaker of Otomi, since there are numerous errors (morphological and syntactic) in Spanish (Guerrero Galván 2013, p. 120). According to Acuña (1990, p. lxiv), the original Arte was probably completed before 1571.
Édition utiliséeAcuña (1990).
VolumétrieThe section entitled Arte, which precedes the trilingual dictionary (Ms “Américan 8” of the National Library of Paris), contains 16 folios (f. Ir-XVIv) and the vocabulary, 422 folios. The measurements of the Ms are 16,87 X 23 cm (Acuña 1990, p. xix). 55.918 characters (spaces excluded) (Word-version obtained by Alonso Guerrero Galván).
The 1856 copy of the John Carter Brown Library contains 104 pages, 45 leaves; 36 cm. (4to)
Nombre de signes55918
Reproduction moderneAcuña, R. (1990)
DiffusionCopy of the Paris codex made by Ephraim George Squier: Internet Archive (éd. 1856). There is also a photographical reproduction of the Arte from a manuscript from the 19th century, housed in the Newberry Library, Chicago (Ayer ms. 1652). A transcription of the work has been realised at the Biblioteca Novohispana de Lenguas Indígenas, Centro de Estudios Lingüísticos y Literarios de El Colegio de México, coordinated by Thomas C. Smith-Stark, in co-operation with Yolanda Lastra and Heriberto Avelion (Guerrero Galván 2013, p. 70).
Langues ciblesOtomí (Otomanguean family, Otopamean branch).
Otomí is a Nahuatl exonym. Today, Hñähñu is used as an endonym (also spelled as hñäñho). Urbano’s glosses of Molina’s dictionary (1555) are probably describing the variety of the region Cuautitlan, Tula and Toluca. The anonymous 1605 Ms may describe the variety spoken in and around Cuatitlan, and possibly also a variety spoken in the North and North-Western regions, such as the one spoken in and around Tepozotlan (see also Acuña 1990, p. xliv). In the Arte no specific regional varieties are explicitly mentioned, but sometimes Urbano gives alternative forms without specifying the exact location (“en algunas partes usan éstos…”; p. 8). Recently, Guerrero Galván (2013, p. 69) concludes that the linguistic data were documented in the region of Tula or Jilotepec, but it is possible that the Ms was written in Mexico City
MétalangueCastellano (Spanish). In the 1990 edtion of Acuña we find Spanish titles for paragraphs, which are originally written in Latin. Acuña gives the original Latin terms in footnotes. Sometimes, comparisons are given with “mexicano” (Nahuatl, as on page 23: “Este TEAXCA, TECAL, que dicen e[n] mexicano, se dicen así en otomí...” (for the interpretation, see Acuña 1990, p. 23, footnote 28)
Langue des exemplesOtomí
Sommaire de l'ouvrageDe las letras del ab[e]c[edario].
De los nombres (p. 5-20). [Page numbers refer to the edition of Acuña (1990)].. [gender and declensions are non- existent according to the author], 2. del número; 3. de la calidad de los nombres; 4. nombres de patria; 5. nombres de los dueños; 6. de los nombres abstractos; 7. de los nombres verbales; 8. nombres de contraposición [translation of Acuña of Latin nomina simultatis]; 9. nombres diminutivos [according to Acuña, the Ms has nomina diminutiva] ; 10. de los diferentes nombres adjetivos; 11. de los nombres participiales [translation from Acuña of Latin nominainbilis [sic] participalia]; nombres numerales; 13. nombres de consaguinidad [in the original nomina consanquinitatis]; 14. Cómo se suple el SUM, ES, FUI entre los nombres.
De los pronombres (21-23). [section without title, no paragraph number]; 2. pronombres posesivos; 3. Cómo se suple el [verbo] ser en los pronombres; 4, Quien o el que, que o lo que. Tecco.
De los verbos (24-29). 1.De algunas consideraciones (about conjugations: two conjugations in Otomi are labelled as “generic”, those ending in tana, and those in tati (“las que dicen de tana; y la otra es de tati”); 2. de los plurales del verbo; 3. de la conjugación de Tana. (presente, pretérito imperfecto, futuro imperfecto, imperativo presente, optativo, infinitivo. 3bis. frecuentativo y transitivo; 4. impersonal; 5. pasiva; con caso de Ta o Ti; imperativo; 7. frecuentativo con caso.
De [los] Gerundios (30-32). 1.[gerundio] de genitivo; 2. gerundio de dativo; 3. gerundio de acusativo, con el verbo “ir” de Tana; imperativo; optativo y subjuntivo; 4. gerundio de acusativo con el verbo “venir”; imperativo; 5. [El verbo “venir”] con caso; optativo y subjuntivo; [6]. de los participios.
De las particulas que varían (33-35). [1]. Introductory remarks. (“Hay algunas partículas o adverbios, que hacen variar la conjugación”); imperativo; 2. xae con [el vebro “ir”]; [2bis]. xae con [el verbo “venir”]; 3. de [la partícula] teccä; imperativo; teccä con [el vebro de “ir”]; síguese la conjugación de Tati; imperativo principal; optativo y subjuntivo.
[De los gerundios (prosigue)] (36-38). [1]. Los gerundios de genitivo y dativo a la letra se usan y forman como los de tana; 2. de los gerundios de acusativo; 3. y sus similes; 4. teccä y sus simil[ar]es, con los de yati; 5. verbos irregulares.
De Nubuæ cuando significa tiempo (39-42). [1] Este nubuæ cuando significa tiempo, hace variar verbos; Nubuæ con [verbos] neutrales; del verbo [“estar”].
De algunas propiedades de algunos verbos (43-46).
De los verbos de llevar y traer, poner y quitar (47-50).
Preposiciones (51). [Some prepositions are given, they seem to be included at random, and are not arranged alphabetically. The first five examples are: “Estoy en mi casa”, “voy a su casa”, “sobre mí”; “de mi voluntad”, “debajo el árbol” with equivalents in Otomi. The list is much shorter than usual in missionary grammars of this period, covering only one folio.
[De los adverbios] (52-54). 1. Adverbios temporales; 2. locales; 3. comunes.
Conjunciones [e interjecciones] (p. 55). 1. [Conjunciones] copulativa[s]; 2. Disyuntiva[s], causal, adversati[v]as; 3. De la interjecciones; del qual se admira, del que se duele, del que exclama, del que incita, del que llama. Finis.
Objectif de l'auteurNo didactic goals are explicitly mentioned, since the work does not have a prologue or other paratexts. As we can read in the title, the work is an “Arte breve”, but we do not know if Urbano also worte an “Arte grande”. The grammar is not a useful tool for learners of Otomí pronunciation/ phonology, since nothing is explained about the use of diacritics (“virgulillas, acentos circunflejos, ápices, barritas horizontales”; Acuña 1990, p. lxv).
Intérêt généralSeen from a didactic point of view, the general interest of the work is almost non-existent, according to Acuña (1990, p. lxv): “en pocas palabras, desde el punto de vista didáctico, el valor efectivo del Arte breve es prácticamente nulo”. Generally, Urbano does not supply any detailed information concerning phonology, definitions are infrequent. Urbano’s grammatical compendium does not include a final section entitled “maneras de hablar”, nor does he decide to give detailed information concerning the use of particles, as many of his colleagues did during this period. Urbano developed special letters for the 9 oral and 4 nasal vowels in Otomí (Guerrero Galván 2013, p. 180-181), although he may have been inspired by Cáceres (whose original has been lost and whose text only survives in an unsatisfactory edition). For the glotalised and aspirated consonants see Guerrero Galván (2013, p. 274). The glottal stop ‘saltillo’ is not written systematically (id., p. 282).
Parties du discoursOn the first page, we read that the author decided to arrange his Arte according to the eight parts of speech (“El orden que se terná será proseguir por las ocho partes de la oración” (f. 1r)): noun, pronoun, verb, participle, preposition, adverb, conjunction and interjection, but he also devotes several sections to the “gerundio” and the “nombre participial”. Urbano does not follow the Castilian grammar of Nebrija here, who has 10 parts of speech, since the gerundio and the nombre participial are not treated as parts of speech. Urbano does not always follow the Latin order. In Latin, the verb “to be” (sum, es fui) is not included in the sections devoted to the verb, but first in a subsection of the chapter on the noun (paragraph 14), entitled “Cómo se suple el SUM, ES, FUI, entre los nombres”, and secondly, in a section of the chapter on the pronouns, entitled “Cómo se suple el [verbo ser] e[n] los pronombres” (Zwartjes 2016, p. 54-64).
Innovations term.Inanimate, and “condemned animate” (“cosa inanimada, o animada vituperable”) (5). Frequentative with case (“frecuentativo con caso”) (29).
Corpus illustratifUrbano’s brief compendium contains word-to-word equivalents of Spanish paradigms. Generally, no longer phrases or texts are given as elements of his illustrative corpus. Many examples, as those given in the chapter on adverbs, are only in Otomí, without a Spanish translation (as “adverbios comunes” p. 53). Since he places the Spanish entries first in the trilingual dictionary, the learner would not have been able to find the meaning of these Otomí words and expressions in this Ms.
Indications compl.
Influence subieThe trilingual dictionary is based on Molina’s first edition Spanish-Nahuatl dictionary (1555) (Acuña 1990, p. xxx), which was derived from Nebrija’s Dictionarium (for more details see Hamann 2015, p. 48-50 and 77-78). The Castilian-Nahuatl entries are word for word as compared with the 1555 printing of Molina (Guerrero Galván 2013, p. 69). The way Urbano represents the glottal stop (using a circumflex) seems to be inspired by grammars of Nahuatl (Lastra 1992, p. 460). According to Lastra (1992), Urbano’s Arte breve is a summary of the Arte of Cáceres. The topics described are similar and the orthography shares the same conventions (1992, p. 460). There may be some common features, sometimes we find the same examples. Notwithstanding, it is also obvious that Urbano did not copy the grammar of Cáceres, since many sections are quite different. One example, dealing with the noun, Cáceres has the following subsections: Number, nouns are indeclinable (“los nombres en esta lengua son indeclinables”) and singular and plural are distinguished by particles which can be anteposed or postposed. Three particles are mentioned for the singular (anteposed) aωn, noω, o (the diacritic here is a small omega placed on top of the vowel, also called “little bat”, “murcielaguillo”; Guerrero Galván 2013, p. 192). Urbano opens the section on the nouns with a similar observation regarding declensions, but gender is added in the definition: “In this language there are no gender or declensions” (“en esta lengua no hay género ni declinaciones”). Urbano gives the vocative as an exception, the only “case” in Otomí, which does not appear in the opening section of Cáceres. The singular and plural markers were discussed first in Cáceres, whereas Urbano starts with gender. According to him, there are two particles, omayohæ or tomayohæ for masculine, and tänxü or anxitzu for female, followed by some observations of “animate” nouns. Number is dealt with in the second paragraph where Urbano gives a longer list of particles, as compared with Cáceres: no, o, an, na, ne, ma for singular and e, nuye, nucquæ, yo for plural, followed by some rules concerning “condemnable animate and inanimate nouns” (such as “the devil”, “someone who is evil”, “sinner”) (“cosa inanimada, animada vituperable”). Cáceres uses different metalinguistic terms: “hablar sin menosprecio” (to speak without disrespect), opposed to “nombres rreuerenciales para denotar menosprecio”, but the examples are different from Urbano: “Aztec vassal” (maçehual”) and “villain” (“vellaco”). Urbano has the following subsections for the noun: De la calidad de los nombres; Nombres de patria; Nombres de los dueños; De los nombres abstractos; De [los] nombres v[er]bales; Nomina simultatis]; Nomina diminutiva]. Cáceres continues after the section on number and “respectful and disrespectful nouns” with sections on kinship terms (“nombres de parentescos), some verbal nouns, appellative nouns, “demonstrativo para cosas presentes”, “nombres que significan antiguedad”; present and absent. Different from Urbano, Cáceres introduces a definition of the dual at the end of this section, which is not mentioned by Urbano. It has been frequently demonstrated that both Cáceres and Urbano followed the model of Antonio de Nebrija, but this comparison clearly demonstrates that they both follow an entirely different structure, different topics are discussed, with different examples, and the “accidents” of the noun are presented in a different order. On the other hand, we often find the same examples, such as the words “albedo”, “blancura” and “nigredo”, “negrura” (“whiteness and blackness”) in Cáceres, chapter 3 and Urbano’s has also “cosa blanca, blancura”. Urbano omits “negrura” but adds “divinidad” and “virginidad”. In the section on adjective nouns (“de los nombres adjectivos”), Cáceres (ca 1580, chapter 9, p. 49) gives the examples “cosa humeda, hedionda, mojada, cosa verde”, whereas Urbano gives “dulce, amarga, transparente, clara, húmeda, larga” and others, which means that only “húmedo” occurs in both sources, the others are all different. Other chapters seem to come closer to each other. Urbano’s section on kinship terms (“nombres de consanguinidad”, p. 11) is followed by a paragraph on how to replace the verb “to be” (“Cómo se suple el SUM, ES, FUI, entre los nombres”), exactly the same as in Cáceres, “De los nombres de parentescos, De los grados de consanguinidad” (chapter 17, p. 56) followed by “de la manera de suplir el sum, es, fui, con los nombres”, which cannot be a coincidence. In conclusion, if Lastra’s assumption that Urbano’s work is written after the completion of Cáceres’ grammar is right, Urbano could have been inspired by Cáceres. If the original work of Urbano was completed before Cáceres’ grammar, maybe both authors were inspired by some other sources, which have been lost (Kudlek 1974, p. 58).
Influence exercéeUrbano’s work (and the same applies to Cáceres’ grammar (O.F.M.) and Melchor de Vargas’s (O.S.A.) Doctrina Christiana) was probably not known at all by grammarians and lexicographers describing Otomí to follow. Sánchez de la Baquera and the Jesuit anonymous authors, Neve y Molina and Agreda do not mention the Franciscans Cáceres and Urbano. The orthographies developed by the Jesuits are obviously different from those of the Franciscans (for an overview see Wright Carr 2005).
In the anonymous work Luces del otomí, there is not included any reference to the work of Urbano (Zimmermann 2012, p. 68).
Renvois bibliographiquesAcuña R. (éd.) 1990; Buelna E. (éd.) 1893 {[ca 1767]}; Guerrero Galván A. 2013; Hamann B. E. 2015; Kudlek M. 1974; Lastra Y. 1992; Molina A. de 1555; Molina A. de 1571; Squier E. G. (éd.) 1856; Urbano A. 1605; Vargas M. de 1576; Wright Carr D. C. 2005; Zimmermann K. 2012; Zwartjes O. 2016

Zwartjes, Otto

Création ou mise à jour2018-09