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Colonial Linguistics In New Spain


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The body of work on Nahuatl produced in New Spain has long been utilized by historians and linguists studying the Nahuatl-speaking peoples and the grammar and development of their language. The present work is historiographical in nature and focuses instead on early Nahuatl grammars as linguistic documents. Specifically, it examines the common criticism that colonial grammarians were unable to accurately describe Nahuatl grammar due to a Latinate bias in their conception of language. To the contrary, this dissertation shows that while colonial grammarians worked within Latin-based European linguistic traditions, they also modified the precepts of Latin grammar when necessary. Indeed, a study of the full range of Nahuatl grammars published during the colonial period demonstrates that a separate grammatical tradition arose in New Spain, centered on the study of Nahuatl.


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