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El náhuatl en Los Ángeles: el papel de la lengua indígena en la creación de la identidad chicana


Náhuatl, although the most widely spoken indigenous language in Mexico, is not spoken by indigenous immigrant communities in Los Angeles as are other languages such as zapotec or mixtec. Rather, it is used by Chicanos, those individuals of Mexican descent living in the United States who seek to recover or preserve their indigenous heritage, in their efforts to create a unique ethnic identity. The present work seeks to understand the role of náhuatl in the creation of Chicano identity.

The paper begins with a brief description of the linguistic situation of náhuatl in Mexico. This is followed by an explanation of the relevant terminology and then a description of the methodology used to collect the data on which the analysis is based. Information was collected from interviews with two náhautl instructors who represent different ideologies as well as from observations of a náhuatl workshop and a danza azteca rehearsal. The analysis itself consists of an overview of Chicano ideology in general and a description of the two main ideological groups to which Chicanos can belong based on their perspective of Aztec culture. Furthermore, it describes the specifc linguistic attitudes and behaviors that are direct reflexes of the ideologies peviously presented. The analysis is followed by a brief discussion of the linguistic situation of the Chicanos who live in Los Angeles, and the paper concludes with an examination of the effects that this situation have on the maintenance and/or loss of the náhuatl language.

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