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Empire, colony and globalization. A brief history of the Nahuatl language.

This paper is the first attempt to outline the cultural and sociopolitical history of Nahuatl, one of the most important native languages of America.

We begin with preconquest times, focusing on its role in the Aztec empire, and continuing through the colonial period until the present. We discuss the most important elements of the Nahua writing tradition, its changes under contact with European culture and Spanish, as well as modern threats to its survival. We finish with current prospects for revitalization.