El Diccionario Tarahumara –Alemán de Matthäus Steffel: Lengua y Cultura Rarámuri en el Siglo XVIII




Merrill, William L.

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Universidad de Sonora, Hermosillo, Sonora, México


El Diccionario Tarahumara-Alemán de Matthäus Steffel: Lengua y Cultura Rarámuri en el Siglo XVIII, by William L. Merrill, in collaboration with Maria Brumm and Greta de León. Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico: Universidad de Sonora. 1103 pages. Tarahumara, an Indigenous language of northwestern Mexico, is spoken today by more than 80,000 people, who refer to themselves and their language as "Rarámuri". It is related to over thirty other languages that together form the Uto-Aztecan language family, distributed at European contact from the Great Basin of the western United States to Central America. The only extant dictionary of the Tarahumara language produced prior to the twentieth century was compiled in German by the Moravian Jesuit Matthäus Steffel, based on his experience as a missionary among the Tarahumaras between 1761 and 1767. The dictionary was published in Germany in 1809, but it contains hundreds of mistakes, both typographical and substantive, suggesting that Steffel did not have the opportunity to review it before his death in 1806. Fortunately, the majority of these mistakes can be corrected by comparison with a manuscript version of the dictionary that is preserved in the Moravian Provincial Archives, located in Brno, Czech Republic, where Steffel lived during the last three decades of his life. This volume offers the first Spanish translations and detailed analyses of both the published and manuscript versions of Steffel's Tarahumara-German dictionary, as well as exact transcriptions of the German originals of both works. Its principal objectives are to make the dictionary accessible to the Rarámuri people and to enhance its value as a source of data for research in linguistics and other disciplines. Steffel documented over 1100 Tarahumara words, along with diverse dimensions of the phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics of the language in the eighteenth century. The record he created indicates that, during the last 250 years, the Tarahumara language has undergone significant changes that have tended to distance it from other Uto-Aztecan languages. His dictionary is crucial to clarifying the historical relationships between Tarahumara and these languages as well as the nature and temporal framework of the changes that occurred. In addition, Steffel enriched his lexical entries with precise descriptions of a range of Tarahumara cultural practices and various aspects of life in colonial Mexico, and he provided the first descriptions of the flora and fauna of the Tarahumara region. The translations and transcriptions of the dictionary presented in this volume are complemented by overviews of Steffel=s life and his linguistic endeavors and evaluations of the significance of these works for research on Tarahumara language and cultural history. To transform his studies into reliable sources of linguistic data and to facilitate their use in linguistic research, the volume presents a technical analysis of his orthographic conventions, along with an extensive review of the errors identified in the works, a presentation of the words and glosses documented in the published dictionary in separate Tarahumara-Spanish and Spanish-Tarahumara vocabulary lists, and a compilation of these lexical items rendered in Steffel's orthography and modern phonetic notation. A glossary of the plant and animal terms that Steffel documented is presented separately with postulated scientific identifications of the taxa designated by them. An index of the principal topics covered in the published dictionary also is provided.


translation of the original book

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Merrill, William L. 2020. El Diccionario Tarahumara–Alemán de Matthäus Steffel: Lengua y Cultura Rarámuri en el Siglo XVIII. Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico: Universidad de Sonora