To linguistically label, or not

A couple of decisions we’ve made regarding metadata in the NECA database require explanation, and help clarify what we’re aiming for in the project as a whole:

We’ve avoided labeling types of Nahuatl in the documents.

The historical evolution of Nahuan languages, the relationship between Pipil (Nawat) and Nahuatl, and the spread and influence of Nahuatl in Central America are underexplored topics with real-life implications for Indigenous rights, territorial sovereignty, and national identity. Linguists agree on the basic features that differentiate modern Nawat from Nahuatl. Nevertheless, the linguistic heterogeneity of the NECA documents and the varied backgrounds of their authors led us to not assign labels in haste. Indeed, one of the primary aims of NECA is to stimulate conversation about exactly what kinds of Nahuan languages were written and possibly spoken in Central America during the colonial period, where, and for how long.

We’ve excluded Nahuatl documents from neighboring regions such as Oaxaca.

The dialects evident in our Central American documents are sometimes described as “peripheral,” a term also applied to other regional varieties of Nahuatl outside central Continue reading


Thank yous

Many thanks to Sergio Romero and Rafael Lara-Martínez for their help building the site and Julia Madajczak and Agnieszka Brylak for beta testing it; the NECA advisory board, especially Michael Swanton, Janine Gasco, Matilde Ivic de Monterroso, Jorge Lemus, and Karl Offen; Jan Morrow of TUSHIK; Jon Pray, Terry Miller, James Marten, and the College of Arts and Sciences, Marquette University; Ann Hanlon at the Digital Humanities Lab, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; David Bodenhamer at the Polis Center, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis; Matthew Butler and Tom Keegan at the Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio,  University of Iowa; Davíd Dominguez Herbón, Adriana Álvarez, and Miriam Peña Pimentel at the Red de Humanidades Digitales, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; and Sharon Leon at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, George Mason University.