El Saltillo

Frances Karttunen karttu at nantucket.net
Tue Jan 19 05:11:35 UTC 2010

The Nahuatl orthography used in the 16th century and continuing to  
the present (along with a number of alternative orthographies that  
have been proposed since) uses some digraphs (two characters to  
represent a single consonant).

Examples at tl for laterally released t as in tletl; tz as in tzapotl  
and itepotz; ch in Nahuatl chihua and nochpoch; qu before i and e; etc.

Spanish uses hu- for phonetic w, which only occurs syllable-initially  
in Spanish.  But in Nahuatl, [w] can be syllable-final as well as  
syllable-initial.  In that case, the digraph is turned around and  
written -uh.  So hu- as in huipilli and -uh as is notepeuh (possessed  
form of tepetl).

(By the way, I am omitting vowel-length marking here, because the  
macrons in my Nahuatl print font often do strange things in the  
course of email transmission.)

Similarly, the traditional Nahuatl orthography uses cu- in syllable- 
initial position but -uc  syllable-finally: cualli but teuctli.   
Sometimes in traditional orthography, instead of the digraph -uc, the  
trigraph -cuh has been used (tecuhtli), and that causes all sorts of  
confusion, because people take the h here to be the saltillo, which  
it is not.   cu-, -uc, and -cuh all stand for k made with rounded lips.

In the examples cited below, the systematic dropping of a stem-final  
vowel in the past tense of Type 2 verbs changes the position of w  
from syllable-initial  (ihui, ohua, -ihua, ehua, ahua) to syllable- 
final (iuh, ouh, iuh, euh, auh).

So no, the h in these digraphs is not saltillo.  It is part of hu- ~  
uh, representing w.

On Jan 18, 2010, at 2:59 PM, <lahunik.62 at skynet.be> <lahunik. 
62 at skynet.be> wrote:

> Dear one's,
> I fully understand the argumentation of Lady Frances Karttunen  
> contrasting open and closed syllables and the use of the –h as the  
> saltillo and as consonant, thanks anyway.
> Like you said the saltillo is more than a morphogram, a sign to  
> close a syllable,it is a phonogram too with a special sound.
> But what about the following verbs and their Base 2 (verbal stem of  
> the preteritum, el pretirito):
> Ìcihui, ìcihui > iciuh.
> Cōhua, cōhua > cōuh.
> Palēhuia, palēhuia > palēhuih.
> Pōhua, pōhua > pōuh.
> Chīhua, chīhua >chiuh.
> Ēhua, ēhua > ēuh.
> Cāhua, cāhua > cāuh.
> These are all verbs by which the end letters change of place in  
> Base 2.
> The ending –h, is that a saltillo, or is it just the letter –h?
> And if it is just a letter –h, what is than the difference between  
> the two?
> Or is there no difference?
> Lahun Ik 62
> Baert Georges
> Flanders Fields.
> PS. My excuses to the moderator.
> _______________________________________________
> Nahuatl mailing list
> Nahuatl at lists.famsi.org
> http://www.famsi.org/mailman/listinfo/nahuatl

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