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Nican Mopohua (“Thus It Is Told”)


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Prolog & Chapter 1: Juan Diego Meets the Virgin

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i. Nican Mopohua, motecpana, in quenin yancuican hueytlamahuizoltica monexiti in cenquizca ichpochtli Sancta María Dios Inantzin Tocihuapillatocatzin, in oncan Tepeyacac, motenehua Guadalupe. Thus it is told, and set down in order, how a short time ago the Perfect Virgin Holy Mary Mother of God, our Queen, miraculously appeared out at Tepeyac, widely known as Guadalupe.
ii. Acattopa quimottititzino ce macehualtzintli itoca Juan Diego, auh zantepan monexiti in Itlazoixiptlatzin in ixpan yancuican Obispo, Don Fray Juan de Zumárraga. First She caused herself to be seen by an Indian named Juan Diego, poor but worthy of respect; and then her Precious Image appeared before the recently named Bishop, Don Fray Juan de Zumárraga.
Form Challenge ii: The translator uses the term "Indian" to translate "macehualtzintli." What are the parts of this word? Why is "Indian" a good/bad translation? Explain.

Chapter 1: Juan Diego Meets the Virgin

001. Ye yuh matlac xihuitl in opehualoc in atl in tepetl Mexico, in ye omoman in mitl in chimalli, in ye nohuian ontlamatcamani in ahuacan in tepehuacan Ten years after the City of Mexico was conquered, with the arrows and shields put aside, when there was peace in all the towns,
Usage Note 001: The expression "in ätl in tepëtl" = "the water, the mountain" consists of two nouns read together to produce a result sometimes different from the sum of the parts (in this case meaning "city"). This happens quite frequently in Nahuatl, especially elegant Nahuatl. A similar structure appears in line 37.
002. in maca zan ye opeuh, ye xotla, ye cueponi in tlaneltoquiliztli in iximachocatzin in Ipalnemohuani, nelli Teotl Dios. just as it sprouted, faith now grows green, now opens its corolla, the knowledge of the One by whom we all live: the true God.
003. In huel ihcuac in ipan xihuitl mil y quinientos y treinta y uno, quin iuh iquezquilhuioc in metztli Diciembre mochiuh, oncatca ce macehualtzintli icnotlapatzintli, At that time, the year 1531, a few days into the month of December, it happened that there was a humble but respected Indian, a poor man of the people;
Form Challenge 003: What Spanish words do you find in this Nahuatl passage?
004. itoca catca Juan Diego, iuh mitoa ompa chane in Cuauhtitlan. his name was Juan Diego; he lived in Cuauhtitlán, as they say.
005. Auh in ica Teoyotl, oc mochompa pohuia in Tlatilolco. And in all the things of God, he belonged to Tlaltilolco.
006. Auh Sábado catca, huel oc yohuatzinco quihualtepotztocaya in Teoyotl ihuan in inetititlaniz. It was Saturday, not yet dawn; he was coming in pursuit of God and his commandments.
007. Auh in acico in inahuac tepetzintli in itocayocan Tepeyacac, ye tlatlalchipahua. And as he drew near the little hill called Tepeyac it was beginning to dawn.
008. Concac in icpac tepetzintli cuicoa, yuhquin nepapan tlazototome cuica; cacahuani in intozqui, iuhquin quinananquilia tepetl, huel cenca teyolquima, tehuellamachti in incuic; quicenpanahuia in coyoltototl in tzinitzcan ihuan in occequin tlazototome ic cuica. He heard singing on the little hill, like the song of many precious birds; when their voices would stop, it was as if the hill were answering them; extremely soft and delightful; their songs exceeded the songs of the coyoltotl and the tzinitzcan and other precious birds.
Form Challenge 008: What Nahuatl words correspond to the English translation "many precious birds"?
009. Quimotztimoquetz in Juan Diego. Quimolhui: cuix nolhuil, cuix nomacehual in ye niccaqui? Azo zan nictemiqui? Azo zan niccochitlehua? Juan Diego stopped to look. He said to himself: "By any chance am I worthy, have I deserved what I hear? Perhaps I am only dreaming it? Perhaps I'm only dozing?.
010. Canin ye nica? Canin ye ninotta? Cuix ye oncan in quitotehuaque huehuetque tachtohuan tococolhuan, in xochitlalpan in tonacatlalpan, cuix ye oncan ilhuicatlalpan?" Where am I? Where do I find myself? Is it possible that I am in the place our ancient ancestors, our grandparents, told about, in the land of the flowers, in the land of corn, of our flesh, of our sustenance, possibly in the land of heaven?".
Picture Content Challenge 010: Juan Diego is a Christian. Is this vision of heaven more Christian or more Aztec? Explain.

Picture shows the mountain-shaped XXth-century basilica at the shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe in the Tepeyac district of Mexico City. The older church building is at the right.
011. Ompa on itzticaya in icpac tepetzintli in tonatiuh iquizayampa, in ompa hualquiztia in ilhuicatlazocuicatl. He was looking up toward the top of the hill, toward the direction the sun rises from, toward where the precious heavenly song was coming from.
Form Challenge 011: The expression "in icpac tepetzintli" is translated "the top of the hill." Can you explain all the parts of the Nahuatl expression?
012. in oyuhceuhtiquiz in cuicatl, inomocactimoman in yeequicaqui hualnotzalo in icpac tepetzintli, quilhuia: "Juantzin, Juan Diegotzin". And then when the singing suddenly stopped, when it could no longer be heard, he heard someone calling him, from the top of the hill, someone was saying to him: "Juan, Dearest Juan Diego."
013. Niman zan yeemotlapaloa inic ompa yaz in canin notzalo, aquen mochihua in iyollo, manoce itla ic mizahuia, yece huel paqui huellamachtia; quitlecahuita in tepetzintli ompa itztia in campa hualnotzaloc. Then he dared to go to where the voice was coming from, his heart was not disturbed and he felt extremely happy and contented, he started to climb to the top of the little hill to go see where they were calling him from.
014. Auh in ye acitiuh in icpac tepetzintli, in ye oquimottili ce Cihuapilli oncan moquetzinoticac, And when he reached the top of the hill, when a Maiden who was standing there, who spoke to him,
015. quihualmonochili inic onyaz in inahuactzinco. who called to him to come close to her.
Form Challenge 015: What Nahuatl expression has been translated "close to her"? What are its parts?
016. Auh in oyuhacito in ixpantzinco, cenca quimomahuizalhui in quenin huellacenpanahuia in ic cenquizca mahuizticatzintli: And when he reached where she was, he was filled with admiration for the way her perfect grandeur exceeded all imagination:
017. in itlaquentzin yuhquin tonatiuh ic motonameyotia, inic pepetlaca; her clothing was shining like the sun, as if it were sending out waves of light,
018. auh in tetl, in texcalli in ic itech moquetza, inic quimina; and the stone, the crag on which she stood, seemed to be giving out rays;
019. in itlanexyotzin yuhqui in tlazochalchihuitl maquiztli, in ic neci; her radiance was like precious stones, it seemed like an exquisite bracelet (it seemed beautiful beyond anything else);
020. yuhquin ayauhcozamalocuecueyoca in tlalli. the earth seemed to shine with the brilliance of a rainbow in the mist.
Form Challenge 020: What are the meaningful parts of "ayauhcozamalocuecueyoca," which seems to mean, in a single word, "shine with the brilliance of a rainbow in the mist"? Explain.
021. Auh in mizquitl, in nopalli ihuan occequin nepapan xiuhtotontin oncan mochichihuani yuhquin quetzaliztli. Yuhqui in teoxihuitl in iatlapalio neci. Auh in icuauhyo, in ihuitzyo, in iahuayo yuhqui in cozticteocuitlatl in pepetlaca. And the mesquites and nopals and the other little plants that are generally up there seemed like emeralds. Their leaves seemed like turquoise. And their trunks, their thorns, their prickles, were shining like gold.
022. Ixpantzinco mopechtecac. Quicac in iyotzin, in itlatoltzin, in huel cenca tehuellamachti, in huel tecpiltic yuhqui in quimococonahuilia, quimotlatlazotilia. He prostrated himself in her presence. He listened to her voice [her breath], her words, which give great, great glory, which were extremely kind, as if she were drawing him toward her and esteemed him highly.
023. Quimolhuili: - "Tlaxiccaqui noxocoyouh Juantzin, campa in timohuica?" She said to him, "Listen, my dearest-and-youngest son, Juan. where are you going?"
Form Challenge 023: Why is "noxocoyouh" translated "dearest-and-youngest son"?
024. Auh in yehuatl quimonanquilili: "Notecuiyoé, Cihuapillé, Nochpochtziné! Ca ompa nonaciz mochantzinco Mexico-Tlatilolco, nocontepotztoca in teoyotl, in techmomaquilia, in techmomachtilia in ixiptlahuan in Tlacatl in Totecuiyo, in toteopixcahuan. And he answered her: "My Lady, my Queen, my Beloved Maiden! I am going as far as your little house in Mexico-Tlatilolco, to follow the things of God (everything that makes God be God) that are given to us, that are taught to us by the ones who are the images of Our Lord: our priests."
Content Challenge 024: Standard Spanish translations of "mochantzinco" here render it as "a tu casita," "to your little house." Yet given how he addresses her, Juan Diego clearly recognizes the Virgin. So is the place really little, or is it palatial? Or beloved? Or is he being polite? How can we tell, or can we?
025. Niman ye ic quimonochilia, quimixpantilia in itlazotlanequiliztzin, Then she talks with him, she reveals her precious will,
Form Challenge 025: What are the parts of "itlazotlanequiliztzin"?
026. quimolhuilia: "Maxicmatti, ma huel yuh ye in moyollo, noxocoyouh, canehuatl in nicenquizcacemicac Ichpochtli Santa María, in inantzin in huel nelli Teotl Dios, in ipalnemohuani, in teyocoyani, in tloque nahuaque, in ilhuicahua, in tlalticpaque. Huel nicnequi, cenca niquelehuiz inic nican nechquechilizque noteocaltzin, and she says to him: "Know, be sure, my dearest-and-youngest son, that I am the Prefect Ever Virgin Holy Mary, mother of the one great God of truth who gives us life, the inventor and creator of people. the owner and lord of what is around us and what is touching us or very close to us, the owner and lord of the sky, the owner of the earth. I want very much that they build my sacred little house here,
Form Challenge 026: "Noteocaltzin" is translated "Sacred little house"; explain the translation, and then suggest a more graceful expression. How does this contrast with the expression used in line 024. Why do you think a different word is used?
027. in oncan nicnextiz, nicpantlazaz; in which I will show him, I will exalt him on making him manifest;
028. nictemacaz in ixquich notetlazotlaliz, noteicnoittaliz, in notepalehuiliz, in notemanahuiliz, I will give him to the people in all my personal love, in my compassionate gaze, in my help, in my salvation,
029. ca nel nehuatl in namoicnohuacanantzin, because I am truly your compassionate mother,
030. in tehuatl ihuan in ixquichtin in ic nican tlalpan ancepantlaca, yours and of all the people who live together in this land,
Form Challenge 030: What does"ixquichtin" mean?
031. ihuan in occequin nepapantlaca notetlazotlacahuan, in notech motzatzilia, in nechtemoa, in notech motechilia, and of all the other people of different ancestries, those who love me, those who cry to me, those who seek me, those who trust in me,
032. ca oncan niquincaquiliz in inchoquiz, in itlaocol, inic nicyectiliz nicpatiz in ixquich nepapan innetoliniliz, intonehuiz, inchichinaquiliz. because there I will listen to their weeping, their sadness, to remedy, to cleanse and nurse all their different troubles, their miseries, their suffering.
033. Auh inic nuelneltiz in nicnemilia in noteicnoittaliz ma xiauh in ompa in itecpanchan in Mexico obispo, auh tiquilhuiz in quenin nehua nimitztitlani inic tiquixpantiz in quenin huel cenca niquelehuia inic nican nechcalti, nechquechili in ipan in tlalmantli noteocal; huel moch ticpohuiliz in ixquich in otiquittac, oticmahuizo, ihuan in tlein oticcac. And to bring about what my compassionate and merciful gaze is trying to do, go to the residence of the bishop of Mexico, and you will tell him how I am sending you, so that you may reveal to him that I very much want him to build me a house here, to erect my temple for me on the plain; you will tell him everything, all that you have seen and marveled at, and what you have heard.
Form Challenge 033: What are the parts of "oticcac," the last word? Why is there a double C in the middle of it?
034. Auh ma yuh ye in moyollo ca huel nictlazocamattiz, auh ca niquixtlahuaz And know for sure that I will appreciate it very much and reward it,
035. ca ic nimitzcuiltonoz, nimitztlamachtiz, that because of it I will enrich you, I will glorify you;
036. ihuan miec oncan ticmacehuaz ic niccuepcayotiz in mociahuiliz, in motequipanoliz in ic ticnemilitiuh in tlein nimitztitlani. and because of it you will deserve very much the way that I reward your fatigue, your service in going to request the matter that I am sending you for.
037. Ocayeoticcac noxocoyouh, in ni'iyo, in notlatol; ma ximohuicatiuh, ma ixquich motlapal xicmochihuihuili." Now, my dearest son, you have heard my breath, my word: go, do what you are responsible for [in this effort]."
038. Auh niman ic ixpantzinco onmopechtecac, quimohuili: "Notecuiyoé, Cihuapilé, caye niyauh inic nicyectiliz in mi'iyotzin in motlatoltzin. Ma oc nimitznotlalcahuili in nimocnomacehual." And immediately he prostrated himself in her presence; he said to her: "My Lady, my Beloved Maiden, now I am going to make your venerable breath, your venerable word, a reality. I, your poor Indian, am leaving you for a while."
Usage Note: The expression in ihïyötl in tlahtölli = "the breath, the words" (here possessed: in m.ihïyo.tzin in mo.tlahtöl.tzin = "your breath, your words") is like the doublet "in ätl in tepëtl" in line 001. We will see this very formal expression throughout the text when Juan Diego refers to the Virgin's revered command to him and occasionally when the Virgin refers to her own words.
039. Niman ic hualtemoc in quineltilitiuh in inelitlaniz: connamiquico in cuepotli, huallamelahua Mexico. Then he came down (from the hill) to put her errand into action; he came to get onto the causeway, he comes straight to Mexico City.

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