R. Joe Campbell campbel at indiana.edu
Fri Sep 1 15:15:52 UTC 2006

Estimadisimos listeros,

    I've been away from my keyboard for over a week, but I suffered no 
visible signs of withdrawal.  ...probably because I was in the company of 
the Friends of Uto-Aztecan at the annual conference.

    Naturally, you would expect my e-mail to have piled up -- and it had,
but my eye lit on the "tecua(h)que(h)" discussion.  So here is my belated
two cents:

    Nahuatl derives its agentive nouns in two ways:

  1) with the -ni suffix, originally a verb suffix indicating customary 

      ahui[y]ani        	prostitute, one who enjoys
      teaaltiani		one who bathes people
      ahcocholoani	one who jumps high
      tecoachihuani      one who invites people to a feast
      tlapacani		one who washes something
      tlaneloani		rower, one who rows

  ...and these "words" have plurals ending in -meh:


   (indicating that these words, which are verbal in origin, have crossed 
the line into nounhood [-meh is a noun suffix])

  2) by interpreting the preterit form of the verb to express the notion
of "agent" (i.e., temictih, murderer [he killed someone]):

      tlaneloh		rower, one who rows
      acacuauhchiuhqui   one who makes reed smoking tubes
      ahmolchiuhqui      one who makes soap
      tlacacqui          obedient person; one who hears something

      acacuauhnamacac	one who sells reed smoking tubes
      tlacualnamacac     one who sells food
      tlanexpacac        one who washes something in ashes
      ohtlatocac		one who walks
                          (i.e., one who follows something roadly)
      tetatacac          one who digs out stones
      tequihuehuetzcac   one who laughs heartily

    Since these "preterit-agentive" nouns have the same form as the verbs 
that they are historically derived from (their structural or synchronic
role being an open question), "tecuahqueh" may be interpreted as either
1) a verb: "they ate someone" or 2) a noun: "people-eaters".

    As it turns out, the notion of people devourers is dominated by
'tecuanimeh' (singular: tecuani), but this would be no impediment
to the development of 'tecuahqui' and 'tecuahqueh' in some community.
My favorite example of this is my attempt to say "I follow you" to a
Nahuatl speaking friend of mine -- my attempts at speaking modern Nahuatl
probably sound like Don Quixote to current speakers.  I said 'nimitztoca'
and after clarifying that I didn't intend to *bury* him, he said,
"you mean 'nimitzicanhuia'" [i.e., I apply behindness to you].


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