for nahuatl info?

r. joe campbell campbel at
Mon Jan 6 20:54:47 UTC 2003


   (read all this with the introductory phrase: "I may be wrong about this
(particularly not knowing the dialect in question), but...")
    [Further, these comments are offered in the spirit of constructive

   When we learn modern Nahuatl, since it has split into many varieties
(some people would say that every town has its own dialect), it is a good
idea to be explicit about what area your material comes from.
   I noticed in the vocabulary list at Nahuatl Tlahtokalli that the
dialect used seemed to preserve syllable-final 'h' (tahtli, nehnemi), but
there were many words where it was lacking (e.g., mitotiani, zitli).
Another problem with 'h': 'yakatzotzomaktli' for 'yakatzotzomahtli'

   'kuezpallin' is not a likely form.  Double-l ('ll') is (almost) always
*formed* in Nahuatl (by l+tl or l+y) and the absolutive noun suffix here
is '-in'.  Also, the 'z' is in doubt -- although 'tz' becomes 'z' in
syllable-final position in many dialects, the vocabulary on the website
contains words with syllable-final 'tz', indicating that this dialect
doesn't do that.

   'Mopampa' and 'ipampa' are given with the meanings 'for you' and 'for
him, her, it', respectively.  Since '-pampa' means 'because', this looks
like a translation of 'por ti' -- 'because of you' (not something intended
for you).

   'Kalakia' is given with the meaning 'put', giving the reader the
impression that he could 'kalakia' something *on* the ground, but
'kalakia' means to 'put *in*, insert'; just putting is expressed with

   I really doubt that 'go out' and 'throw' are 'kitza' and 'tlatza',
respectively.  They are more likely to be 'kiza' and 'tlaza' (as they are
in all dialects I know). This would eliminate the need for a statement of
irregularity in the grammar that says that 'tz' becomes 'z' at the end of
a word in the past tense.

  kiza      he goes out
 okiz       he went out

  kitlaza   she throws it
 okitlaz    she threw it

Further, 'tz' doesn't become 'z' at the end of a word anyway:

  kipitza   he blows it
 okipitz    he blew it

   It is dangerous to add the non-specific object
'tla-'to verb stems or to sub from nouns derived from verbs.  In the

   It is dangerous to either add or subtract the non-specific object
'tla-' from verb stems or from nouns derived from verbs.  In the glossary,
'tlalnamiki' is given as 'think, imagine, reflect', hiding an 'i' from the
learner -- possibly tempting him into thinking that the following is

   niktlalnamiki*      I think it

But the stem is '-ilnamiki', the correct form being:


   The opposite occurs in:

  kualchichiua       to cook
   (the 'tla-' of tlakualli is not removable)
    [from 'tlakualli' (food) + 'chichiua' (prepare)]
  koualiztli         merchandise
   ('tlakoualiztli' can't lose its 'tla-')

   There seems to be a serious problem in the spelling of words with 'tz'
and 'z' (in addition to 'kiza' and 'tlaza' mentioned above).

   Correct        Incorrect

   azkatl         atzkatl
   eztli          etztli
   iztak          itztak

There are probably more of these and attention to the issue would clean up
a lot of words in one swell foop.

In the opposite direction:

   Correct         Incorrect

   tlalpitzaliztli tlalpizaliztli
    (from tla-il-pitza-liz-tli 'act of blowing something')

   A simple misprint:  lnaitl for maitl (arm).

   In focusing on the problem of people possibly pronouncing 'll' as a [y]
as in Spanish, an erroneous piece of advice is given to the effect that
'll' is pronounced as one 'l'.  In fact, in most dialects, 'll' is
pronounced *longer* than single 'l'.  There is contrast in length between:

   tlalli     earth, ground
 kitlalia     he places it

Rather than wear you out with more examples (as if I hadn't already),
I will cease and desist at this point.

Best regards,

(Ce:ncah Xo:chichil)

p.s. #1: What dialect do the lessons come from?

p.s. #2: Am I mixed up or should 'Tlahtocalli' be 'Tlahtolcalli'?

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