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'With One Lip, with Two Lips': Parallelism in Nahuatl

William Bright
Language
Vol. 66, No. 3 (Sep., 1990), pp. 437-452
DOI: 10.2307/414607
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/414607
Page Count: 16
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'With One Lip, with Two Lips': Parallelism in Nahuatl
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Abstract

Texts in Classical Nahuatl of the year 1524, in the genre of formal oratory, reveal extensive use of lines showing parallel morphosyntactic and semantic structure; this parallelism expresses likeness rather than contrast, and is organized in binary sequences which display successive embedding. Analysis and translation of an extended passage point to (a) the applicability of structural analysis to 'expressive' as well as 'referential' texts; and (b) the importance of understanding oral literatures not just in terms imposed by translators, but in the light of their inherent esthetic principles.

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