The research project „Europe and America in contact. A multidisciplinary study of cross-cultural transfer in the New World across time”, financed by the European Research Council, explores the cross-cultural contact and transfers between Europeans and the native people of the Americas since XVI century until modern times, focusing on the linguistic change in the Nahuatl and the Spanish language.
The contemporary stage in the evolution of Nahuatl language and culture begins in the fifth decade of the twentieth century. After the Mexican Revolution, intellectuals began to forge a new national identity, based in part on pride in a mythologized version of Mexico’s indigenous past.
This paper discusses major historical, cultural, linguistic, social and institutional factors contributing to the shift and endangerment of the Nahuatl language in Mexico. As a practical proposal, we discuss our strategy for its revitalization, as well as a series of projects and activities we have been carrying out for the last several years. Crucial to this approach are several complementary elements: interdisciplinary research, including documentary work, as well as investigation of both the historical and the present state of Nahua language and culture; integration of both Western and native-speaking indigenous researchers as equal partners and the provision of space for indigenous methodologies; creation of teaching programs for native and non-native speakers oriented toward the preparation of language materials; and close collaboration with indigenous communities in developing community-based programs.