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“ Héritage ” ou patrimoine linguistique et réaménagement de la construction nationale : le “ réveil maya ” au Guatemala, perspectives présentes et futures

Abstract : After decades of hardships and political confinement imposed on civilian organizations defending social, human and cultural rights (1955-1988 in Guatemala) by authoritarian governments, new political movements and a wide array of scholarly and non governmental institutions concerned with education and promotion of native languages have appeared. These structures, such as PLFM (Proyecto Lingüístico Francesco Marroquín), OKMA and the ALMG (Academia de las Lenguas Mayas de Guatemala) in Guatemala, had a strong impact on the development of Meso-American linguistics as a conspicuous paradigm of descriptive and applied linguistics in Amerindian linguistics. Foreign scholars became more and more conscious of the social and humanitarian relevance of their descriptive and comparative work, while new generations of native scholars were trained in empirical and theoretical linguistics in centers like the University of Austin Texas, under the supervision of Nora England. Synergy between academics dedicated to MAYAN or other MA languages led to a cooperative paradigm in descriptive and comparative linguistics, a reversal in the usual asymmetry of status between scholars and “informants”, the former becoming native linguists, more and more involved in educational processes, and the publication of school texts, grammars and dictionaries of MA languages. In Guatemala, linguistic maps designed by linguists such as Terrence Kaufman, initially to set up the frame for comparative and genetic linguistics, turned into official documents for the refoundation of sociocultural policies, and are still considered as basic constructs for nation building according to a democratic agenda. Linguistics has turned out to be one of the tools used by grass-root components of Meso-American societies in questioning discrimination, cultural and political domination, dispossession, massive immigration, through the recognition of the highly structured patterns of grammars and lexicons of MA indigenous languages, the critics of the rhetoric's of discrimination, the promotion of ancestral heritage, the enhancement of the continuity between ancient and modern native peoples of MA, the defence of pluralism as an asset for emerging or re-emerging democracy after decades of authoritarian powers and geostrategic dependence. New trends, attitudes and cooperation agendas have emerged, where most of the work which had been done in the past limited itself to translations of the Bible in native languages, by institutions such as the S.I.L. MA linguistics therefore has a strongly positive impact in the social and political scenery on a continental scale, involving Northern American and native scholars committed both to the advancement of the humanities, knowledge of MA languages and history, and democracy. The MAmP project takes root in this context of linguistic and cultural revival, on the basis of nearly a decade of collaboration with formal or applied linguistics agencies in Mexico and Guatemala.
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Submitted on : Monday, November 9, 2009 - 4:13:03 PM
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  • HAL Id : halshs-00430749, version 1



Jean Léonard Léonard, Jean Léonard Léonard. “ Héritage ” ou patrimoine linguistique et réaménagement de la construction nationale : le “ réveil maya ” au Guatemala, perspectives présentes et futures. Traverses, 2005, pp.221-249. ⟨halshs-00430749⟩



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