Linguistic poetic and rhetoric of Eastern Chatino of San Juan Quiahije




Cruz, Hilaria, Ph. D.

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Verbal art plays a crucial role in the culture and traditions of Chatino communities, which is in the mountains of southern Oaxaca, Mexico. This study examines verbal art in the SJQ variety of Eastern Chatino, a language which belongs to the Chatino group in the Zapotecan branch of the Otomanguean stock. There is a wide range of discourse genres practiced in the community including prayers, persuasive talk, political speeches, narrative, jokes, and everyday conversation. The analysis presented here is based on six ritual texts, three of which are presented in their entirety. These six texts are drawn from a corpus of approximately 100 hours of audio recordings collected during language documentation work from 2004 to 2010 in the two Chatino communities of the municipality of San Juan Quiahije: the town of San Juan and the adjacent community of Cieneguilla. These texts were transcribed, translated, and analyzed using linguistic and poetic tools developed for the study of oral discourse. The intricate poetic texture and style of SJQ verbal art is created through the confluence of multiple, distinct elements including parallelism, formulaic phrases, difrasismo, sentential adverbs, poetization of grammar, assonance, and performance. Parallelism is one of the most prevalent recurrent poetic tools in SJQ poetics. This verbal art tradition also comprises a large number of conventional lexical set or formulaic phrases, which are part of the communities' collective knowledge. A large number of these formulaic phrases have metaphorical meaning, known in Mesoamerican poetics as difrasismo. Many grammatical features in the language have an additional poetic function. This is a widespread process in oral discourse, referred to by some scholar as the “poetization of grammar”. For example, persuasive speech recited in political contexts, such as at the City Hall of the town of San Juan, shows a more frequent than average use of the first person plural pronoun. Orators use this grammatical person to convey humbleness, a sense of community, belonging, and inclusiveness, as well as to evoke feelings of endearment. Finally, San Juan Quiahije oral discourse is performed before an audience for the benefit of the community. One of the major features of performance in San Juan Quiahije discourse in performance is overlapping speech.




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