Ziphen Central

Seeking Wisdom and Sublimity

Back from Mexico

I have returned from the land of banana trees and iridescent butterflies, the land of the Huastec and Nahuatl-speaking Indians, and I am happy to report that the trip went very well, and that my father and I have returned home safely. If you’ve been watching the news lately, you’ll surely know that there’s quite a bit of conflict going on along the border of Mexico right now, and although we did see some drug cartel members along the highway in northern Tamaulipas, we got past unscathed, knowing that God was with us the whole time (although it is rather disturbing to see people with guns in Mexico who are neither military or police). As for the Huasteca Potosina, the area where we spent the week, things are much more peaceful there.

As always, a week was not enough, but I was just thankful that I was able to return there again after two and a half years absence. It was a time of renewing old friendships and making new ones, and I was also able to practice speaking Nahuatl. Most of my attempts at carrying on a conversation ended when the person with whom I was speaking uttered a sentence that went past my ears uncomprehended, and then I would resort to Spanish. I probably could have done better, but I am pleased with my progress, and of course everyone was tickled pink that I was learning their language. The Huastec dialect remains a mystery to me, but as we met a good number of Huastec people on this trip, they endeavoured to teach me some of their language as well. It is a Mayan language, entirely different from Nahuatl, and it has a very unique sound, full of glottal stops and ejective consonants. (keep reading)

Posted on 7 December 2010 by Mashkioya
Filed under: Christianity,food,Huastec,Mexico,Nahuatl,nature,photography,Spanish

O lingua fortunata!

Of late I’ve been researching the extant corpus of writings in Etruscan, an ancient language which was spoken in Etruria (modern-day Tuscany), Italy. Etruscan is dead now (its speakers were dissolved into Roman culture long ago), but through the writings these people left behind we do know enough about their language to see that it was definitely not Indo-European, i.e. it was not related to Latin or English or most any other European language. A little is known about its phonology and grammar, but most knowledge of it is lost forever, and although many Etruscan books were written during Classical Antiquity, only one has survived.

This evening I read an online article about Doris McLemore, the last fluent speaker of the Wichita language up in Oklahoma. It really is sad to think how this Native American tongue will be lost when she passes away, but when one looks at history, it is clear that one language supplanting another is nothing new. The ancient Celts of the Iberian peninsula were Romanized years ago, and even before that it is likely that the original Indo-Europeans conquered many people in Europe who had lived there before them. Thus we can see that, although it is certainly lamentable, there will always be languages that are replaced by other, more fortunate tongues.

However, to end on a good note, I should like to remind you that North America is not losing all of its linguistic richness. In my two visits to San Luis Potosi, Mexico, I found the Nahuatl and Huastec languages thriving alongside Spanish, spoken by young and old alike. So, it really is possible to retain your linguistic heritage if you have a mind to.

Posted on 24 January 2008 by Mashkioya
Filed under: Etruscan,history,Huastec,language,Latin,Mexico,Nahuatl,opinions

La Huasteca Potosina

In November I had the opportunity to visit the Huasteca region of Mexico again. Here are some photos from that trip, along with a few words I’ve learned in the natives’ languages.

 

Tancuem

The house in which the church at Tancuém meets (this is a Huastec congregation)

 

Door to church building in Matlapa

The door of the church building in Matlapa

  (keep reading)

Posted on 4 January 2008 by Mashkioya
Filed under: Huastec,Mexico,Nahuatl,photography

Tampamolón

The following is an extract from my journal, translated from Spanish.

April 25, 2007

TampamolónAfter the wedding in Huichihuayán, we got in the van accompanied by five Mexican brothers and sisters, going to our next destination: Tampamolón, the home of two widows. Brother Dugan had already told me their story. Many years ago they were married to the same man, and it came to pass that a certain brother taught him the Gospel, and he wanted to become a Christian. However, the brother told him that according to the Bible, a man can only have one wife, and if he wanted to become a Christian he would have to divorce one of his. So he did this, but only a few months later he passed away. After his death, since the two women didn’t have jobs, they decided to help one another and make a living by baking bread. The one bakes it in a big oven (which she showed us), and the other takes it to sell; in this way they can make enough money to survive. The name Tampamolón, according to an Aztec man who was there, means “place of the wild pigs” in the Tének dialect, called this because when the Huastecs lived there, there used to be lots of wild pigs in that area. However, these two widows are Aztecs, as are all their neighbors.

They led us to their house, and we all sat down in a breezeway between two buildings. We talked with the widows a good while; they were very nice and showed us great hospitality. They even gave us all Coke, even though it was clear that they didn’t have much money to spare. The one lady showed us her oven, a large structure made of mud and adobe. They had a dog (or chichi, as the Aztecs say), and the surprising thing is that he was a very friendly dog. The other dogs we had seen were really scared, and when they saw someone with a stick, they would run in fear. They were very skinny, and one could easily tell that they were hungry. But we could see that this dog, Kiko, was loved. He wasn’t hungry or scared, he barked, and he liked people. (keep reading)

Posted on 16 August 2007 by Mashkioya
Filed under: Christianity,food,Huastec,Mexico,Nahuatl

¡Wana tukapu’!

In the Huasteca of Mexico I had the opportunity to partake of much local cuisine, from Potosian enchiladas at the hotel, to chopped up nopal (that is, prickly pear cactus) at a preacher’s home. As Mr. Dugan told me, This is real Mexican food!

Zacahuil

Zacahuil

While in Mexico we attended the wedding of the son of a certain preacher, and after the ceremony they served all the guests a very singular dish dubbed zacahuil (sah-kah-WEEL). I think this is a Huastec food, but I could be wrong. At any rate, I was told that it resembles a gigantic tamale, and its method of cooking is quite fascinating. (keep reading)

Posted on 29 June 2007 by Mashkioya
Filed under: food,Huastec,Mexico,photography

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