Prayers for the Community: Parallelism and Performance in San Juan Quiahije Eastern Chatino
By Hilaria Cruz
La42 qin4 kchin4 or ‘Prayers for the Community’ are supplications spoken by elders, traditional authorities, and virtuoso Chatino speakers from Oaxaca, Mexico. Chatino prayers are composed of varied, and complex forms of parallelism, repetition, and formulaic expressions. Units of meaning in these prayers are developed and presented in semantically and syntactically related stanzas consisting of any number of verses, including couplets, triplets, or quatrains. Chatino supplications achieve poetic tension, imagery, and metaphor through the extensive use of formulaic expressions, which are conventionally paired parallel words and phrases. These well established units of the poetic lexicon are part of the collective knowledge of the community. Formulaic expressions make extensive use of positional and existential predicates, making them challenging to translate into English or any Western languages.