Iowa State University
He is interested in the process of revitalizing the Nawat language. He is currently evaluating the acquisition of Nawat phonology by speakers of Salvadoran Spanish. Additionally, he works on describing phonological features of Salvadoran Spanish, such as the “elimination” of /ʝ/ in words like “milla” [‘mi.a], and documenting other non-phonological aspects of Nawat, including the expression of movement, topological spatial relations, and spatial frames of reference.
Online Nawat schools and their contribution to language revitalization
In 1932, in western part of El Salvador, hundreds of peasants of Nahuatl descent rebelled in response to the recent abolition of their communal lands and the extreme economic inequality in which they lived. Salvadoran military forces responded quickly with a campaign that resulted in the genocide of more than 30,000 peasants and civilians, many of them Nahuat-speaking, in an event called “La Matanza.” As a consequence of this genocide, Nahuatl is now a critically endangered language and is spoken as a first language by only perhaps 200 elders in small towns in western El Salvador. However, the last decade has seen the rise of a major Nahuat revitalization initiative that originated on online platforms.
My presentation focuses on the role that virtual schools play in the revitalization of Nahuatl. Drawing on testimonials from activists involved in these institutions, as well as my own experiences as a student, teacher, and founding member of the Tamachtiluyan Alan R King online Nahuatl school, I propose that these institutions are key to raising awareness of the current state of Nahuatl and its speakers among the Salvadoran population and increasing the number of second-language Nahuatl speakers.