Are You a Good Story Teller?

Mitla Ruina

A good story teller tells what happens in a story but keeps background information about the characters and happenings separate so that the story is clear.

This is done with verb prefixes in San Felipe Santiago Otomí, spoken in the State of Mexico. Some prefixes indicate main events, others background, and still others events spoken of that do not actually happen. A translation of an Otomí personal experience is presented on the next page with Otomí verb prefixes placed after the translations of the verbs. Seven different prefixes occur.

Two prefixes indicate main events: du ‘I’ (past) and bi ‘he’ (past).

Three prefixes indicate main events in relation to the preceding event. Ga indicates action that takes place at the same time as the last one; bu indicates action that takes place at a different location from the last one; and gi indicates action that takes place at a later time than the last one.

Finally, mi indicates background information for the actions in the story, and di indicates something that does not actually happen.

The story