Nahuatl Word of Interest

Frances Karttunen karttu at NANTUCKET.NET
Wed Jan 28 03:26:19 UTC 2004

on 1/27/04 11:41 AM, a.appleyard at BTINTERNET.COM at
a.appleyard at BTINTERNET.COM wrote:

> Frances Karttunen <karttu at NANTUCKET.NET> wrote:-
>> ... Oquichmicqui doesn't mean a dead husband. It means a widow,
>> that is a woman who is husband-wise dead.
>> Likewise, ci:huamicqui refers to a man who has lost his wife to
>> death.
> Some people would call that sort of compound a bahuvrihi: "she whose corpse is
> a husband", "he whose corpse is a wife". Compare English "yellowlegs" (a sort
> of American bird) = "it whose legs are yellow".

In Nahuatl the sort of construction I think you describe is quite common and
always carries a possessive prefix.  For instance, "Mother of God" is teo:tl
i-na:n, literally 'God his-mother.'  What strikes me as remarkable about
oquichmicqui and cihua:micqui is that they are distinct from micqui
i:-oquich 'a corpse is her husband' and micqui i:-chihua 'a corpse is his
wife.'  The focus isn't on a specific person who is dead but on the
condition of the survivor.

Whereas with nonhumans, the relationship is different: burrohmicqui means 'a
burro-type of dead thing.'

More information about the Nahuat-l mailing list