Endangered Language Alliance
Linguists have classified Nahuatl as belonging to the Aztecan branch of the Uto-Aztecan language family, which extends as far north as eastern Oregon. Today the Mexican government recognizes 30 distinct and sometimes mutually intelligible varieties of Nahuatl; the Ethnologue catalogue recognizes 28. English words that derive from Nahuatl include “avocado”, “chili”, “tomato”, “chocolate”, and “coyote”.
ELA has been working with local speakers of various dialects of Nahuatl (Xalpatlahuac in Guerrero; San Luis Potosí; a dialect spoken in north Puebla), both supplementing existing documentation and creating pedagogical materials with audio. In collaboration with Mano a Mano, a local non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of Mexican culture, ELA helped organize Nahuatl classes with maestro Irwin Sanchez, as featured on NPR.
We also produced a sample podcast which students anywhere can utilize to learn the language. This one covers things we see in the sky, fruits, vegetables, things in the kitchen, furniture, people and some simple actions.
Right click here to download: Nahuatl Podcast
The material for this podcast is largely based on the Nahuatl picture dictionary produced by SIL, Mexico which can be downloaded from here.
ELA also collaborated with photographer Ed Lefkowicz on his exhibit New York’s native speakers of Nahuatl.