On chilli again

Rudolph C Troike rtroike at U.ARIZONA.EDU
Mon Jul 16 04:45:26 UTC 2001


        There has been a tradition of writing Nahuatl which goes back to
1521, in which the -ll- always represents either a single /l/ or geminate
/ll/, never /y/. -ll- in Italian still represents a geminate ("long") /ll/
but in Spanish it palatalized (like /nn/) to /ly/ (which is still retained
in the Andes, thanks probably to Quechua influence, which has a palatal
/l/), and then to /y/, hence the modern pronunciation of "calle" as
        However, there are many Nahuatl words such as "calli" (house),
"calpulli" (barrio), etc., which have the -ll- spelling where it does not
represent /y/ or even /ly/. People in Mexico are sufficiently familiar
with Nahuatlisms that they are aware of the difference, but they would be
misleading to Spanish speakers from other countries (just as people from
outside the Andes would be unfamiliar with the use of -ll- in Quechua for
        A footnote on "chiles rellenos", which are stuffed chile peppers,
hence a kind of chile (pepper), whereas "chile pepper" is a kind of
pepper. Anglicized "chile rellenos" takes the whole, "chile-relleno" as a
unitary name with no internal structure, and pluralizes it.


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