Come February 2020, Nahuatl speakers will have the opportunity to enrich their breadth of knowledge and even equip themselves to help others do the same. Nahuatl (Nawatl) is an Uto-Aztecan language with more than 1.5 million speakers in Mexico, making it one of the most widely spoken indigenous languages.
The pioneering program, set to take place at Universidad Veracruzana Intercultural (UVI), is titled La Maestría en Lengua y Cultura Nahua, or La Maestriah ipan Totlahtol iwan Tonemilis, which translates to Masters in the Nahua Language and Culture.
“This program looks to contribute to the positioning of Nahuatl as a modern language, rather than a disadvantage in the development of Nahua villages,” professor and coordinator of the program, Carlos Octavio Sandoval Arenas, tells Remezcla.
“Even though the General Law of Linguistic Rights establishes the right of Indigenous communities to use their native tongue in public spaces, there are still not conditions for that to be a reality,” Sandoval says. “In court, clinics, hospitals… there’s still a linguistic barrier [for] Nahuatl-speaking communities and Indigenous communities in general.”
Aimed at those who have a BA and are already comfortable speaking the language, the two-year study has three areas of focus: intercultural linguistic mediation, revitalization of the language or to teach in the language. But most of all, director Lourdes Budar Jimenez tells Universo, “the focus is interdialectal.”
Though its existence seems both natural and necessary, the motivation to make it a reality surged after a study that was conducted in Nahuatl-speaking regions. It showed professionals are using the language at work, but that many don’t have the tools to deepen its academic usage in fields such as mathematics or biology.
But one thing is clear here: This is about more than Nahuatl. It’s about decolonizing Indigenous tongues, expanding its use nationally and educating not only native speakers but anyone who cares to take the time to learn. Seems like just the beginning.
The last day to register for classes is September 27.