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Analytical Dictionary of Nahuatl Hardcover – May 1983


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A comprehensive modern dictionary of the major indigenous language of Mexico. Nahuatl speakers became literate within a generation of contact with Europeans, and a vast literature has been composed in Nahuatl beginning in the mid-16th century and continuing to the present. Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Amazon.com: 9 reviews
36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
Great help for my linguistics research! 17 April 2000
By Audrey - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I found this analytical dictionary very well done and accessible. What is more, it was of great help in my research for my linguistics analysis class, in which we studied Nahuatl in an exercise. I recommend this book to whoever would like to learn more about this language, and also to linguists.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Indispensable but flawed 6 Dec 2007
By bukhtan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Any English-speaking student learning "Classical" Nahuatl needs this book; there is currently nothing remotely comparable in English treating the language of the two centuries following the Spanish invasion. Hippocrene has published a "Nahuatl-English/English-Nahuatl Dictionary" but this covers only the modern language. Other works, such as Campbell's redaction of Molina, not to mention Simeon (in French) are hard to come by outside of major universities.

However, the student will quickly discover some serious drawbacks in this work. First off, by "analytical" Ms. Karttunen means that she broken down the sentences and phrases glossed in Molina's great Spanish-Nahuatl/Nahuatl-Spanish lexicon into what we would call "words". Some bound morphemes are presented under their own heading as well, but not all. Nahuatl is characterized by a fairly small phoneme inventory and quite a lot of assimilation takes place, so further analysis would have been useful, at least for those of us studying on our own.

A more serious problem is the restriction on sources. Ms. Karttunen started from Molina, as anyone would, and has added material from other vocabularies, including a couple of modern ones. All to the good, but it appears to me that she did not much go beyond this. The "Bancroft Dialogues" were utilized (Ms. Karttunen cooperated with James Lockhart in producing an excellent edition of this text) but this is high-flown language and not an obvious candidate for inclusion in a basic lexicon. I have been working recently with Sahagun's great work, the "Historia General De Las Cosas De Nueva Espanya", a landmark in anthropology, folklore, and sociology (though no literary masterpiece) which any student of Nahuatl will want to sample, and so far I see no evidence that Ms. Karttunen has incorporated any of it into her "Analytical Dictionary". A bit like writing a lexicon of Golden Age Spanish and leaving Cervantes out. As well as the historians of the invasion of America.

There are many smaller difficulties. I am bothered by Ms. Karttunen's retention of Molina's habit of placing reflexive verb usage ("nino") first in the entry. Counterintuitive and awkward. And I would also point out that knowledge of Spanish is very helpful, as sometimes a Spanish translation is not carried over into an English gloss (the original Spanish entries are included).

A salient virtue of this book is the indication of vowel length and the saltillo, both phonemic in Nahuatl. However, Ms. Karttunen devotes what seems to me inordinate space in many entries to whether a given vowel is long or short, and who said what about the matter.

But this leads to the important point. In her Introduction, Ms. Karttunen says that one of the virtues of "computational linguistics" (meaning that the book derives from a computer database) is its appropriateness to a work in progress. This was back in the Seventies. It's high time that:

A) detailed discussion of vowel length etc. is replaced by
B) a thorough glossing of Sahagun and other important sources such as Chimalpahin.

This valuable work might be seen as the notes for a definitive dictionary of Classical Nahautl. It will be a very useful substitute until the new edition, based on this one, arrives.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
THE dictionary for Nahuatl study! 21 April 2009
By Mario E. Aguilar - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What ever the limitations of the sources Kattunen uses, this dictionary is fantastic in that it shows the long vowels, glottal stops, and applicative, causitive, and non-active (passive) tenses of many verbs.

Using this text in combination with the Porrua edition of Molina, the Nahuatlahtoh has 90% of all the tools he/she will need to better understand this beautiful and evolving Native American language.

For those who want to understand modern Nahuatl please go to:[...]
Wonderful dictionary of Nahuatl 15 Jan 2014
By P. Brown - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am studying Aztec poetry, so this book is invaluable to understand the actual Aztec as written rather than an American translation.
!!! 18 Oct 2013
By eduardo estrada - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Really went in depth ...broke down how to form sentences...most dictionaries just translate single words,this explain how important different suffixes and prefixes can completely change meaning
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