This book "asserts that the origin and spread of languages must be examined primarily through the time-tested techniques of linguistic analysis, rather than those of evolutionary biology" and "defends traditional practices in historical linguistics while remaining open to new techniques, including computational methods" and "will appeal to readers interested in world history and world geography."
Review of Entre las Lenguas Indígenas, la Sociolingüística y el Español
EDITOR: Islas, Martha TITLE: Entre las Lenguas Indígenas, la Sociolingüística y el Español SUBTITLE: Estudios en Homenaje a Yolanda Lastra SERIES: LINCOM Studies in Native American Linguistics 62 PUBLISHER: LINCOM GmbH YEAR: 2009
John J. Stevens, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, University of North Carolina Wilmington
In this edited volume, Martha Islas has compiled a remarkable collection of previously unpublished studies in honor of the renowned Mexican linguist Yolanda Lastra. The collection includes contributions from a variety of international researchers working within the three main linguistic subdisciplines in which Lastra has distinguished herself - indigenous languages, Spanish, and sociolinguistics. All of the chapters are written in Spanish, except for Jane Hill's study of loan words in the Mesoamerican maize complex and Kenneth Hill's paper on Hopi phonology, both of which appear in English.
Part I of the book contains a short introduction by the editor as well as a background chapter entitled ''Lingüística descriptiva y lingüística social en la obra de Yolanda Lastra: historia de un compromiso científico'' in which Pedro Martín Butragueño presents a biographical sketch of Professor Lastra's academic formation, teaching, research, and important contributions, especially in the area of the descriptive linguistics of the indigenous languages of Mexico. The remaining 20 chapters are divided into three sections that correspond to the research areas in which Lastra has been the most active: Part II Indigenous Languages, Part III Spanish Language Studies, and Part IV Sociolinguistics.
Part II - Indigenous Languages - begins with William Bright's ''Topónimos amerindios en México y los Estados Unidos'' in which the author discusses place names of Mexican origin and the methodology employed in the elaboration of two etymological dictionaries in which he was involved: ''Native American Place Names of the United States'' (Bright, 2004) and ''El Proyecto 'Toponimia Indígena de México' [TIM]'' (Lastra, Bright, & Guzmán Betancourt, 2003). Doris Bartholomew, in ''El apócope en los verbos del otomí: la morfofonémica del plural,'' uses Classical Otomí as the point of departure for the examination of apocope innovations in modern dialects of Otomí in four regions of Mexico: the Mezquital Valley (Hidalgo), Jiquipilco (Mexico), the Sierra Oriental of Hidalgo, and Ixtenco (Tlaxcala). In the chapter ''Ancient loan words in the Mesoamerican maize complex,'' Jane H. Hill explores the three temporal levels of loan word exchange proposed for the domain of the maize plant in Mesoamerica, critically reviewing published accounts in order to clarify the three levels and suggest some new lines of investigation. Kenneth C. Hill, in ''On underlying vowel clusters in Hopi,'' presents phonological phenomena that support the claim for underlying vowel sequences in that language. In ''El cuento del honorable Fundidor Sagrado que hace imágenes,'' Katherine Voigtlander and Artemisa Echegoyen perform a linguistic analysis of an Otomí story whose origin may have been motivated by the need to explain how the native Mexicans were conquered by the Spaniards. Francisco Barriga Puente, in ''La influencia del español en los sistemas de numeración mesoamericanos durante la colonia,'' examines the impact on the number systems of the native peoples of Mesoamerica as a result of the intense contact between indigenous languages and Spanish during the colonial period. Martha Islas, in her chapter entitled ''Los sistemas fonológicos del yuto-azteca del sur y los universales del lenguaje,'' surveys the phonological inventories of the southern branch of the Uto-Aztecan languages in order to see how these systems compare to the statistical patterns most often reported for languages throughout the world. In ''Contacto lingüístico y dialectología. Estructuras comparativas en purépecha,'' Claudine Chamoreau uses comparative structures in different varieties of Purépecha to show that phenomena related to linguistic contact can have relevance for the dialectological study of a language. Thomas C. Smith Stark and Fermín Tapia García, in ''La formación de sustantivos plurales en el amuzgo,'' present a system of rules and features that govern pluralization in Amuzgo, proposing that any practical dictionary of this language should include the plural form as part of any given noun's lexical entry. This section ends with Dora Pellicer's ''Yolanda Lastra y los cuentos otomíes,'' a study in which the author highlights the role of reported speech and repetition in two oral narratives featuring animal characters (''El conejo y el coyote'' and ''El burro y el puerco'') recorded in the field by Lastra herself and which appear in her book ''Unidad y diversidad de la lengua'' (2001).
Part III - Spanish Language Studies - proceeds with María Ángeles Soler Arechalde's ''Nombres de institución y geográficos. Cuestiones de concordancia'' in which the author considers how semantic, syntactic, and pragmatic factors can interact in the variability of the form number agreement takes in Spanish nouns referring to institutions and geographical places. Josefina García Fajardo, in ''El modal 'dizque': estructura dinámica de sus valores semánticos,'' examines the various meanings the modal 'dizque' was found to have in 20th century Mexico and assesses the possible correlation between the dynamic structure of these meanings and those revealed in earlier stages of the Spanish language. In ''A propósito del conocimiento femenino del vocabulario del fútbol en el 'Léxico del habla culta de México,''' Elizabeth Luna Traill analyzes lexical data from Lope Blanch's (1978) corpus to show how women in Mexico City reveal a change over time towards a greater understanding of the game of football (soccer) as reflected in knowledge of its specialized vocabulary. Karen Dakin, in ''Del yutoazteca al *'-hta-' del náhuatl - y al 'itacate' y el 'taco' del español popular: una contribución en homenaje a tres intereses lingüísticos de Yolanda Lastra,'' analyzes the sequence '-ht-' in Nahuatl and presents evidence that shows that the word 'taco' likely derives from Nahuatl 'itacate' and not from some Spanish source as previously proposed. In ''Las paradojas emanadas de las lenguas en contacto: el caso de una familia mazahua,'' Rebeca Barriga Villanueva investigates the impact of Mazahua on the Spanish of four generations of a family from Portes Gil, Mexico.
Part IV – Sociolinguistics - continues with Una Canger's ''Learning a Second Language First 'revisitado,''' which explores the reasons why Nahuatl survives in the Mexican village of Coatepec de los Costales despite the fact that the local children don't speak it. In ''¿Qué elegiría usted, el español, el guaraní o el inglés?'' Anita Herzfeld discusses Paraguay's special case of Spanish/Guaraní national bilingualism and reports the results of a survey designed to assess attitudes towards Spanish, Guaraní, and English. Claudia Parodi, in ''El español y las lenguas indígenas: primeros contactos,'' explores the beginning of the linguistic and cultural indianization of the Spaniards in the New World as revealed in indigenous borrowings and semantic extensions of Spanish in Columbus's' ''Diario del descubrimiento'' (Alvar, 1976). In ''El cuento 'interactivo,' vehículo de educación e identidad,'' Martha C. Muntzel discusses the use of indigenous stories in the development of language and individual identity, proposing the use of the 'interactive story' as a teaching methodology in linguistic and cultural revitalization programs. Finally, Bárbara Cifuentes and José Luis Moctezuma, in ''Un acercamiento al multilingüismo en México a través de los censos,'' analyze census data in order to identify trends in Mexico's dynamic multilingualism.
The studies contained in this volume address a variety of topics, ranging from languages in contact to phonology, lexicology, morphology, syntax, text analysis, and sociolinguistics. All of the contributions are extremely well written and appropriately documented with supporting references. The individual articles would serve very well as supplementary reading material in specialized courses such as the history of the Spanish language, the linguistics of the native languages of Mexico, and the sociolinguistics of Latin America. Graduate students looking for a dissertation topic may find this collection particularly valuable because many of the papers pose intriguing questions and/or propose areas suitable for future doctoral research.
Although the book does include an introductory section, this is mostly a review of Yolanda Lastra's curriculum vitae. The volume would have benefitted from a more complete introduction that served to orient the reader to its contents and that gave a rationale for the placement of the individual chapters into their respective sections, since many of the topics and subfields overlap and the classification of the studies is not always immediately apparent. The book lacks a subject index, which would have been a useful feature for quickly locating information in a collection of this nature. The inclusion of short biographical sketches describing the specialization and research interests of each of the contributors would also have been helpful for readers interested in contacting an author in order to pose follow-up questions and/or pursue a particular line of research.
The admiration, respect, and gratitude of students, colleagues, and friends are manifest throughout this festschrift dedicated to Yolanda Lastra. This wide-ranging compilation of studies encompassing the fields of American indigenous languages, Spanish language studies, and sociolinguistics will no doubt prove to be a valuable resource, not only for instructors and students, but also for researchers working in these areas of specialization.
Alvar, M. [Ed.] (1976). Diario del descubrimiento. Madrid: Cabildo Insular de Gran Canaria.
Bright, W. (2004). Native American place names of the United States. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.
Lastra, Y., Bright, W., & Guzmán Betancourt, I. (2003). El proyecto 'Toponimia indígena de México' [TIM]. SSILA [Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas Newsletter], 22,(1), 6-7.
Lastra, Y. (2001). Unidad y diversidad de la lengua. Relatos otomíes. México: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México [Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas].
Lope Blanch, J. M. (1978). Léxico del habla culta de México. México: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
John J. Stevens is Associate Professor of Spanish in the Department of
Foreign Languages and Literatures at the University of North Carolina
Wilmington, where he teaches courses in Spanish language and Hispanic
linguistics. His research interests include sociolinguistic variation and
the acquisition of Spanish as a second language.