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La categoría ‘adjetivo’ en el Arte del idioma zapoteco (1578) y el Vocabulario en lengua çapoteca (1578) de Juan de Córdova

This article offers a treatment of the linguistic category ‘adjective’ that appears in two
colonial sources, both written by Fray Juan de Córdova, O.P. in 1578: the Arte del idioma
zapoteco and the Vocabulario en lengua çapoteca. Juan de Córdova was a Dominican friar,
born in Córdoba, Spain in probably 1501. In 1543, Juan de Córdova was ordained at the
Convento Imperial de México and later was sent to the Dominican Monastery of Oaxaca.
He served as Province Minister for two years — from 1568 to 1570 — and later he
continued to be a missionary among the Zapotec, when he wrote his great work on their
language. Toward the end of his life, Juan de Córdova returned to Oaxaca and died in the
Dominican Monastery of Old Antequera in 1595.
Based on the description of the category of the adjective, as proposed by Córdova and
the analysis of the language as is currently spoken, particularly in the area of Santa Ana
del Valle, Oaxaca, the author will show that the grammatical class proposed by Córdova
was not actually formed as such during the period he describes. It will be shown, based
on the analysis of two colonial texts — the testamentos by Gabriel Luis (1610) and Juan
López (1618) — that the words that Cordova calls adjectives not only occur with very
low-frequency but, more crucially, their categorization as adjectives has been due to their
role in the Spanish translations more than to their grammatical characteristics. These two testaments had been compiled, with other testaments and documents of several kinds, namely
as documents in a legal suit concerning a site named Gueguecahui. It is relevant to
mention that testaments are not very reliable kind of document for a syntactic analysis of
the language, since they have a very rigid structure that apparently mimics the schema used
in testaments written in Spanish. Nevertheless, they can show that the attributive modification
function is seldom used, and the cases found do not support that these expressions
really pertain to the syntactic category of adjectives.
Furthermore, the analysis of adjectives as currently used in the Zapotec of Santa Ana
del Valle shows that, more often than not, they do not correspond to adjectives but indeed
verbs in Cordova’s Vocabulario. This affirmation is based on a comparative analysis of some
adjectives in modern Zapotec of Santa Ana del Valle with related words given adjectival
meanings in Cordova´s Vocabulario. In conclusion there is not enough evidence of the
existence of adjective category in 16th-century Zapotec.
1. Introducción | 2. La clase adjetivo según Córdova | 3. Dos testamentos coloniales | 4. Análisis comparativo | 5. Conclusiones
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Revista académica
Historiographia Linguistica
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