Chicago's Field Museum

Craig Berry cberry at
Tue Dec 30 21:49:47 UTC 2008

On Tue, Dec 30, 2008 at 1:25 PM, Robert A. Neinast
<neinast at> wrote:
> An example that illustrates the problem:
>  tecuhtli (teh-COOT-lee).

Ouch.  Of course, that's how I was first taught to say it (by someone
who thought of himself as an expert...oh, well).  I'm still trying to
master that glottal sound, but I know now it's a two-syllable word, at

> Yes, that it what they had. They also had other
> abominations like
>  cuauhtin (kwah-oo-teen).

How would you render that properly into informal phonetics?

> In splitting syllables, they also split "tl" and "tz",
> putting the "t" at the end of one syllable,and the
> "l" or "z" at the beginning of the next. Oh, and for a final
> "tl" they had it pronounced simply as "t".

Given they couldn't station a staff person by each sign to teach how
to do the tongue positioning that produces the terminal -tl sound, I'd
say this was a reasonable compromise.  It's what I tell newbies to do,
just to get them from e.g. coh-AH-tul to COH-aht; the next step is
then to teach them the -tl trick.

Craig Berry -
"Lots of things in the universe don't solve any problems, and
nevertheless exist."  -- Sean Carroll
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