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Re: [aymara] B of M and CALA

> From: "don asay" <donasay@hereigo.net>

RE:  Aymara translation of the Book of Mormon

> [From don asay]
> Right The first attempt was 1977,  I happened to be in LaPaz and Achacachi
> that year and knew the people doing the translation.   I was not aware of
> any other orthography and did not even know it was called CALA.  This is why
> I an am curious regardging the different orthographies today.   

Ken Beesley:

Jorge Pedraza Arpasi has done a great service by posting a chart of
the various orthographies that have been devised/proposed for Aymara.  


While spoken language is a human universal, orthography (a writing system)
is a technology, like metalwork or agriculture, that must be invented
or (more often) borrowed and adapted from some already existing example.
Even when an orthography exists, it is not unusual for it to be
understood and used only by a small, specially trained class of scribes/

Even now, some specially trained secretaries write and read English
and other languages in shorthand, an orthography in which their bosses
(who merely dictate) are illiterate.  These specialized orthographies
are only partially standardized.  My mother was a secretary
and learned the "Gregg System" of shorthand, which is widely used in
the United States (or was, a generation ago).  In Britain and Canada,
the older Pitman system is still used.

Various linguists, often linguist-missionaries, have proposed 
orthographies for Aymara.  Bertonio and other early Jesuit 
missionaries adapted Spanish orthography in various ways in their 
early descriptions.  CALA was apparently what many "standard"
publications were using in the 70s.  Recently, IGR (Ivan Guzman de 
Rojas) and Juan de Dios Yapita proposed orthographies for at least 
academic use; the Yapita orthography is indeed used in the publications 
of the "Florida School".  The Maryknoll orthography was another proposal
by a missionary organization.

It is not at all unusual for a language to have various competing
proposals for orthography.

The Alfabeto Unico is almost identical to the Maryknoll orthography
and would appear to be the practical choice for anyone wanting
to write Aymara today.  It has been formally accepted for use by 
both Peru and Bolivia.

It is also interesting to note that it is possible to have a
standard _orthography_ but not a standard _dialect_.  There are,
of course, significant differences in the Aymara spoken in various
regions, and one might expect that writers from different regions
would simply use Alfabeto Unico and write words reflecting the way 
they pronounce them locally.  

Does anyone know more about standardization of the _dialect_ used
in dictionaries, newspapers, books, etc?

> allmost no one could read aymara,  

> Aymara was not a
> written language then but  apears to be a fairly recient invention (
> reinvention?  did
> it not exist as a written language long ago somehow?)  

As I pointed out above, every normal human being _speaks_ a language,
but there is nothing natural or necessary about reading and writing,
which is a cultural technology.  It appears that no orthography
was devised for Aymara until the arrival of the Spanish, and even then 
it was not standardized and did not become widely used.

My current morphological analyzer accepts either Alfabeto Unico or
Yapita orthography.  If I find some time, I'll try to augment it to
accept CALA as well.


Kenneth R. Beesley		ken.beesley@xrce.xerox.com 
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