20 Endangered Languages in 2020: 4. Nahuatl

20 Endangered Languages in 2020: 4. Nahuatl

Time for language number four and I’m moving onto the language of the Aztecs, Nahuatl! This will mark the first time I’ve studied a Native American language and I’m very excited to get started.

What is Nahuatl?

Nahuatl is a language (or family of languages) spoken primarily by 1.7 million Nahua people, most of whom live in central Mexico. It has been spoken there since at least the seventh century CE; its written form was developed after the Spanish conquest and the 16th and 17th century saw many literary works in Classical Nahuatl. Nowadays, although there are still well over a million speakers, it is considered an endangered language due to a lack of intergenerational transmission and the marginalisation of its speakers.

Why did I choose Nahuatl?

So, this year I definitely wanted to spend some time with endangered languages from the UK, as there’s a lack of knowledge about them here and we really should all be doing our best to at least educate ourselves more about them—and I’m definitely including myself in that! But, I also wanted to learn more about languages around the world, and native languages of the American continent are an area I’ve never explored before. Plus, I knew Nahuatl was in some way related to the Aztecs; learning more about a language with such a lot of history is exciting!

What can I expect to achieve in 18 days?

I’ve had a glance over some resources and have found a couple of courses that I think will be useful. As usual, there’s some stuff on Memrise too, so I think I can build as good a base as I have with any of my other languages this year. By the 12th March, I’d hope to be at that similar stage—have a base vocabulary of around 250 words and be able to talk about myself a little.

What resources am I using?

Here’s what I’ve found so far:

  • Memrise (this deck, but there are more)
  • Nahuatlahtolli, an online course from the University of Texas
  • A Nahuatl dictionary from the University of Oregon
  • Vamos a aprender náhuatl, an app for iOS and andriod (iirc)

Okay, so I’m going to go ahead and get started—and I’ll be back in six days with an update!

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