II. Notes and Comments by Tlahui Students

The Intensive Nahuatl Immersion Course
Notes and Comments by Andrea J. Vogt

Tlahui Student of Modern Nahuatl, Beginners' Level
Doctoral Student, Medical Anthropology
Michigan State University
Tlahui: No. 3, I/1997
June 25, 1997

    I have been very pleased with how much I have learned in this Nahuatl course. I'm actually surprised. I didn't expect to learn so much so quickly.

    Mr. Teacher, Sr. Tafolla, was very patient with me, yet he also challenged me. It would have been easy for me to take a lazy attitude in this course, but teacher Tafolla's high (but reasonable) expectations kept me working and studying. I particularly enjoyed our discussions about indigenous culture --The teacher described indigenous customs and practices to me. Tafolla did a good job of introducing a theme or a lesson, then giving me exercises to put in to practice what I had learned. This way I reviewed the material and was able to build my skills day by day. Our "conversations" in Nahuatl were a little tough at times, lent it was excellent practice.

    The toughest part of the course was verb conjugation. --This theme should be introduced much earlier in the course. That will facilitate writing and conversation exercises. There should be a stronger review of earlier themes at the end of the course. It may not exist, but a dictionary that lists spanish words and their translations into Nahuatl would be very helpful.

    One of the best aspect of this program is its flexibility --On the part of the course, that of the director and administration of the course, and that of the instructor and his coursework.

Xochitl Incuicatl/Nahuatl Poetry/Poesía Náhuatl

Kuak Nimitskita/When I Look at You/Cuando te Miro

Andrea J. Vogt
Tlahui Student of Modern Nahuatl, Beginners' Level
Tlahui: No. 3, I/1997

Kuak Nimitskita

Kuak nimitskita
papaki noyolo.

Mo ixtelolo ka kuakualtsin
van motentli kinechmaka
tsopelik tlatoli.

Pan mo ixtelolo nikita
in iluikatl
van pan moma nikmati
tlen tinechneki

In amo onka mostla
ok nika pakti kate.

Pampa nikmati
tlen mochipa tias tinechpitsos
van mochipa nias nikpia

When I Look at You

When I look at you
my heart fills with joy.

Your eyes are beautiful
and your lips offer me
sweet words.

In your eyes I see
the sky
and in your hand I feel
that you love me.

If there were no tomorrow
I will still be content.

Because I know
that you will always kiss me
and I will always have your

Cuando te Miro

Cuando te miro
se alegra mi corazón.

Tus ojos son hermosos
y tus labios me dan
dulces palabras.

En tus ojos veo
el cielo
y en tu mano siento
como me quieres.

Si no hay un mañana
todavía estaré contenta.

Porque sé
que siempre me besaras
y que por siempre
tus abrazos tendré.

Xochitl Incuicatl/Nahuatl Poetry/Poesía Náhuatl

San Nosel / Solitude / Soledad

Andrew Fisher
Tlahui Student of Modern Nahuatl, Beginners' Level
Studen of History, UC San Diego
Tlahui: No. 3, I/1997
September 2, 1997

    San Nosel

    Mokuepa iknotsin nian uanyokoli nian tlanan.
    nenemi isel in ohtli nian...
    Tlanextli nian tlakauian
    pakilistli nian yoltekipacholli,
    ilhuikatl nian mictlan.
    ¿Tleika otikisakej tochan cueman mochi tlen timoneki
    ka ompa?
    Kanin titlakake, ¿amo ka noijki...
    in tetemej uekapan, in ixtlauakamej totonki,
    in temej tlakuahuak, huan in ejekatl chikauak?
    ¿In ilhuikamej amo ka tentok ken sitlallin, mixtli,
    in metsli, in tonatiu?
    ¿Noso, tikpia tlen timotlakixtilia in tokalotiloyan
    inik tipeua tikmatisej in mochi itek ixmatilistli?

    Se yeuachtli okuikas ejekatl kipia tlen moneluayotias.
    Huan, se kuauitl inatle neluayotl amo kualli kixikos.


    To become an orphan without kin or country.
    To travel a solitary path with neither...
    Light nor shadow,
    happiness nor sorrow,
    heaven nor hell.
    What impels us to leave our home when all we need is there?
    Where we are from, are not also.
    The mountains high, the deserts hot,
    the rocks hard, and the win strong?
    Are not the heavens filled with the same stars, clouds,
    the moon, and the sun?
    Or, must we be expelled from our sanctuary to take note
    of the universal in the unfamiliar?

    A seed carried by the wind must settle.
    A tree without roots can not endure.


    Devenir huérfano, sin parientes ni patria.
    Viajar a través de un sendero solitario sin...
    Luz ni sombra,
    alegría ni tristeza,
    sin cielo ni infierno.
    ¿ Por qué salimos de nuestras casas cuando todo lo que
    necesitábamos estaba allá?
    De donde somos, ¿no somos también de ...
    las altas cumbres, de los cálidos desiertos,
    de las duras piedras, y del ventarrón?
    ¿No están acaso los cielos rebosantes de estrellas,
    con las mismas nubes, la luna y el mismo sol?
    ¿O es que tenemos que ser expulsados de nuestro santuario
    para darnos cuenta de lo universal en lo desconocido?

    Una semilla llevada por el viento tiene que enraizar.
    Un árbol sin raíz no puede perdurar.

The Intensive Nahuatl Immersion Course
Notes and Comments by David E. Shoemaker

Tlahui Student of Modern Nahuatl, Beginners' Level
University of Maine. Department of Art
Tlahui: No. 3, I/1997
August 1, 1997

My overall evaluation of the Nahuatl course is good. Professor Tafolla has an earnest, heartfelt love for his indigenous language and culture and conveys this enthusiasm to his students.

However, there are perhaps areas of instruction that could be improved. The first is rather basic: too much class/instructional time is taken up in copying exercises and texts from the wall. To be sure, there is some benefit from this process, but the time used by far outweighs any benefits. Actual grammar instruction is sorely lacking. Specific areas of grammar need to be addressed, for example pronouns (indirect and direct objects, reflexives, etc.) and verbs (conjugation, tense formation).

Another area that needs further development is vocabulary. After several basic lists, the student is left on his or her own to confront unfamiliar vocabulary, especially verbs, through exercises. This process tends to be hit and miss, and it is very time-consuming. In an intensive language course every effort should be made to allow the student to use his or her time in the most productive manner.

An area that has promising possibilities is more direct contact between the student and indigenous communities. By making direct links between the language and the culture, the Nahuatl student steps across one of the barriers that traditionally segregates the language student from the native speaker. Professor Tafolla and Dr. Mario Rojas go a long way in helping students remove these cultural barriers, and as one of the program's strongest aspects, more effort should be spent in developing links with communities.

Xochitl Incuicatl/Nahuatl Poetry/Poesía Náhuatl

Nocitlal / My Star / Mi Estrella

David E. Shoemaker
Tlahui Student of Modern Nahuatl, Beginners' Level
Tlahui: No. 3, I/1997


Citlalin, citlalin mitini
Tiknemi pan yohualli
Ka moxayak ixtak
Tlen itta itech moyolo

Citlaltzin, citlaltzintli
Cecentetl in yohualli
Amochka noyolo
Tikmati noyolo

Citlalin, citlaltzintli
Timomati nokokocayo
Timati noixayomej
Timomati noyollochichinaquiliztli

Citlaltzintli, citlaltzin
Ximixuetzka nopan
Kan motlaneztli
Ximonechchiua matzatzalli

Citlalin, citlalin mitini
Ka ueka ikanepa
Pan in ihuikapol
Ximotemo, nimitztlatlauhtia
Ximochanti noka

My Star

Star, star bright
You live in the night
with your face of white
that gazes into my heart

Dear star, dear little star
Each one of the nights
near my heart--
You know my soul

Star, dear little star
You feel my misery
You know my tears
You feel my sadness

Dear little star, dear star
Smile on me
With your light
Make me happy

Star, star bright
You are so far,
Up in that enormous sky
Come down, please....
And live with me

Mi Estrella

Estrella, estrella brilla
Vives por la noche
Con tu rostro blanco
Que mira dentro de mi corazón

Estrellita, estrellita preciosa
Cada una de las noches
Cerca de mi corazón--
Conoces mi alma

Estrella, estrellita preciosa
Tu sientes mi congoja
Conoces mis lágrimas
Tu sientes mi tristeza

Estrellita, preciosa estrellita
Con tu luz
Hazme feliz

Estrella, estrella brilla
Estás allá muy lejos
En el cielo inmenso
Baja, por favor...
A vivir conmigo

      David E. Shoemaker
      395 Union Street
      Bangor, Maine 04401
      David E. Shoemaker
      University of Maine
      Department of Art
      Carnegie Hall
      Orono, Maine 04473
      FAX: 207-581-3276