Los otomíes: cultura, lengua y escritura (vol. 2)

Thesis for: Doctorado en Ciencias Sociales, El Colegio de Michoacán, Advisor: Phil C. Weigand y Hans Roskamp

ABSTRACT El segundo volumen incluye las referencias, las figuras, un glosario y diez apéndices.


Questions & Answers about this publication

  • David Charles Wright-Carr added an answer in Eye Tracking:
    Eye Tracking Devices and Art?
    Eye Tracking Devices (ETDs), developed in Berlin for studies carried out in the International Space Station from 2004 to 2008, and now commercially available from Chronos Vision (, among other companies, have potential for studying how we perceive art.

    In the last decade researchers have used this technology to try to replicate Russian psychologist Alfred L. Yarbus's classic studies of eye movements and art, published in English in 1967 (Yarbus used relatively crude techniques to measure ocular fixations and saccades):

    Marianne Lipps & Jeff B. Pelz, “Yarbus revisited: task-dependent oculomotor behavior,” in Journal of Vision (Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology), vol. 4, no. 8, August 13, 2004, article 15 (, access: January 25, 2014).

    Jonathan D. Nelson, Garrison W. Cottrell, Javier R. Movellan & Martin I. Sereno, “Yarbus lives: a foveated exploration of how task influences saccadic eye movement,” in Journal of Vision (Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology), vol. 4, no. 8, August 13, 2004, article 741 (, access: January 25, 2014).

    Does anybody know of other studies using ETDs to study how we look at art?
    David Charles Wright-Carr · Universidad de Guanajuato

    Carla: I managed to download a copy of the article and gave it a quick look-over. I don't think I understand your question fully, as most any task requires special knowledge. At any rate, my answer would be yes, that a researcher needs specialized theoretical and practical knowledge, as well as experience, drawn from a variety of disciplines. What sort of knowledge would depend on the specific task at hand.

    The few times I have created databases for indexing images from a given corpus, I have created categories that are directly related to the questions I was asking. The results were quite useful, indispensible in fact, for finding the answers. One was a collection of archival images from the 16th to the 19th centuries, all from the central Mexican states of Guanajuato and Querétaro. In this case the task was fairly simple; I just wanted to be able to handle variables like space, time, materials, location in the archive, published references, and such (a summary is available -in Castilian- here: Three others were digital catalogs of pictorial signs in manuscripts painted in Otomí towns in the early colonial period; in the latter case I was looking at the relations between picture writing, language, and culture. A simplified version of these databases -again in Castilian- may be found in volume 2 of my doctoral thesis (, and its application to the research in volume 1 (

  • David Charles Wright-Carr added an answer in Indigenous Studies:
    How much of the total land is in the hands of indigenous peoples in Canada (and other countries in the Americas)?
    I am working on a paper on the comparison of situations of indigenous peoples in the Americas and I'd like to verify the proportion of indigenous lands in each country. For example, in Brazil, indigenous lands represent approximately 13% of the entire national territory. Data on other American countries will be useful as well.
    David Charles Wright-Carr · Universidad de Guanajuato
    Putting a number on indigenous languages, like defining the number of indigenous people, depends on how you define "language." With Otomí, for example, there are nine speech varieties, and all have official status as languages under the law. If you set the intelligibility bar at 80% (that is, requiring 80% compehension between speakers of two varieties as a condition for grouping both as dialects of the same language), there are nine Otomí languages. If you lower the bar to 70% (which is rather low), you get two main Otomí languages, Western Otomí (spoken in the central and north central highlands of Mexico) and Eastern Otomí (spoken in the Eastern Sierra Madre), plus two languages spoken in the towns of Tilapa, near Toluca, and Ixtenco, in eastern Tlaxcala, for a total of four.

    Many of the 68 language groups that in the past were considered languages are really sets of related languages, containing speech varieties with scant mutual intelligibility. The catalog published in the Diario Oficial in 2008, prepared by the National Institute of Indigenous Languages (, lists 364 indigenous speech varieties which fall into 68 groups, the groups falling into 11 families. Officially each of the 364 varieties is considered a language, although some of these have high degrees of intelligibility with others.

    So how many indigenous languages are spoken in Mexico? Somewhere between 364 and 68, depending on how much intelligibility you require before grouping two or more varieties into one "language." There are also historical, social and political factors that may be taken into account.

    These considerations highlight the pitfalls of working with official statistics, as I pointed out in an earlier post on this thread. Reality is complex and our conceptual categories have to be clearly defined.

    I am attaching the catalogue from 2008 (in Spanish), where there is detailed information about indigenous languages in Mexico, and the problem of defining "language" is discussed.

    Related information and theoretical considerations can be found in the Etnologue (, created and maintained by the Summer Institute of Linguistics, a missionary group with the practical aim of translating the Bible into all languages of the world. While I don't agree with their ethnocentric motivations, the linguistic work they have undertaken over the last three quarters of a century is indispensable, and the practical aspects of their work have led them to devise methods to test intelligibility, which is at the heart of this problem. The measurements of intelligibility are included in the database of the Ethnologue. The numbers are probably not very precise, but it's the best overall information we have at present.

    There is a more detailed discussion of this in section 2.2.2 of my doctoral thesis (again, in Spanish):

    The bibiography is in volume 2:

    I should add that speaking different languages does not necessarily imply having distinct cultures or world views. I find that regional geographical characteristics and contact between communities has a stronger bearing on non-linguistic aspects of culture than linguistic similarities. This goes back to the pre-Hispanic period, when in the central highlands of Mexico there was a relatively homogenous plurilingual culture shared by speakers of widely divergent language families. Language is but one element that constitutes culture, and ethnicity is another matter. People tend to equate language, culture, and ethnicity, but again I must insist that reality is more complex, and if we don't clearly separate all of our variables we can make serious mistakes in our research.