9052 - Frames of reference in the language of space in Coyachique Rarámuri and Choguita Rarámuri

Rarámuri (Tarahumara) is a Uto-Aztecan language spoken in the Sierra Tarahumara, a mountain range in northwestern Mexico with a high degree of ecological diversity, with deep canyons, high summits and large, transitional valleys. The diversity in the landscape is correlated with a high degree of linguistic diversity, but there are still no in-depth assessments of the degree of variation between the different Rarámuri dialects, and many varieties still remain undescribed. Within the context of language documentation and ethnographic research, we present the first description of the frames of reference at play in the language of space in Coyachique Rarámuri and Choguita Rarámuri. Coyachique is among the smallest settlements in the Sierras and is located in a steep slope in an edge of a canyon. Choguita, on the other hand, is one of the largest Rarámuri communities; located in a valley in the highlands, Choguita is cross-cut by a river. In this paper we focus on locative descriptions and terms for landscape landmarks in the varieties spoken in these two geographically contrasting communities. In both varieties, we find evidence of an absolute frame of reference (for both the vertical and the horizontal planes) and an intrinsic frame of reference, encoded through spatial nouns and locative cases. While both varieties reference an upriver/downriver axis and an uphill/downhill axis, locative descriptions are mainly anchored within an upriver/downriver frame in Choguita, but within an uphill/downhill frame in Coyachique, suggesting an active link to the landscape in each context. Finally, there is also a system of cardinal terms that is exclusively used to refer to space within ritual speech. Linguistically, these terms are encoded with the same roots used in the absolute and relative frames of reference (paní-na ‘east’ (uphill), tú-na ‘west’ (downriver), watoná ‘south’ (right), and koiná ‘north’ (left).

co-autora: Ana Paula Pintado Cortina

Keywords: Uto-Aztecan languages, Raramuri (Tarahumara), language of space, frames of reference

Author: Caballero, Gabriela (University of California, San Diego, Ud States of Am / USA)


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