How do Nahuatl idioms compare to English idioms? How about Chinese idioms? Examples?

Frances Karttunen karttu at
Thu Oct 7 14:56:38 UTC 2010

Part of what you might be looking for are the "metaphors" and the  
"difrasismos" of Nahuatl as recorded in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Among the places to look are at the end of the Florentine Codex,  
book  6, and the end of one of the manuscripts of the Olmos grammar  
reproduced as volume 9 in the series of facsimiles issued by the  
press of the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

For a quick on-line look, you might visit and  
under "Aztec Language" have a look at the essay on "'Diphrases' or  
couplets in Nahuatl."

On Oct 6, 2010, at 4:10 PM, Alec Battles wrote:

> After some Google searching, I wasn't able to find anything about
> Nahuatl idioms.
> English idioms tend arrive from other linguistic regions, move in, and
> make themselves very familiar. I don't know if the French were the
> first to say 'that's not my cup of tea,' but a friend has informed me
> that this idiom is very French indeed. I love English idioms, and one
> of my creative projects is to come up with new ones (for fun, but also
> for the free adoption of people involved in imaginative writing).
> Chinese idioms are quite different from English idioms. Usually, they
> reflect a much older stage of the language. In a way, they are nothing
> like English idioms, because their use shows a kind of uncommon
> erudition. It would be more likely to encounter Chinese idioms in
> print, less likely to encounter them in speech.
> Nonetheless, both languages are, in terms of current linguistic
> typology, 'analytic.'
> I am curious about Nahuatl idioms, classical and modern-dialectical.
> Can anyone give me some descriptions or examples of these?
> Alec
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