Tunas and purslane

David Wright dcwright at prodigy.net.mx
Sat Nov 5 18:55:15 UTC 2011

Estimado Johnathan:


I am reluctant to give up the itztli/i:tztli + mi:tl etymology for
itzmitl/aitzmitl/teitzmitl, since it is the only hypothesis I can come up
with, and it seems to make sense (arrow heads resemble leaves), but your
data does show the lack of vowel-length correspondence (mitl vs. mi:tl),
even if we admit both itztli and i:tztli as variant forms for obsidian.


I couldn’t find any mention of blades in Hernández’s treatise, in the parts
describing tetzmitl or either of the two classes of aitzmitl.


The pictorial sign for Itzmiquilpan in the Codex Mendoza (f. 27r) shows what
looks like a sprig of purslane over a cultivated field, with one leaf in the
form of a white almond-shaped blade with a red tip. This, however, is not
necessarily evidence of the semantic value of the toponym, since pictorial
signs were used to express ideas (semasiography), morphemes (logography),
and phonic units such as syllables and phonemes (phonography). Thus the
blade could represent the idea of a blade, the morpheme itz/i:tz (sound with
meaning), and/or the syllable itz/i:tz (just the sound, opening up the
possibility of homophonic or cuasihomophonic morpheme play). The fact that
the scribe/painter thought of a blade when representing this toponym,
however, lends some degree of strength to the itztli/i:tztli + mi:tl
hypothesis. The whiteness of the lower half of the blade is another problem,
since obsidian in the codices is usually painted black (although obsidian
itself comes in a wide variety of colors).







De: Jonathan Amith [mailto:jdanahuatl at gmail.com] 
Enviado el: sábado, 05 de noviembre de 2011 11:54
Para: David Wright
CC: Nahuat-l
Asunto: Re: [Nahuat-l] Tunas and purslane


Hi David,


Yes, Matias Alonso does not mark vowel length, hence my question. It is
actually interestingly organized as a word menu (by semantic field) although
the final aspirations are randomly marked or not marked. I am not sure that
the root in itsmitl (tetsmitl-a:itsmitl) is in any way related to i:tstli
even though Hernandez does relate the semantics of the plant and blade.


In the Balsa area to:mohtli is the term for the prickly pear fruit and
discussions about whether a given plant is a to:motli is based on whether it
produces this fruit. No:chtli is used only for no:chmahtlapahli, a very
small, low-to-the ground Opuntia that I have not yet had identified (it was
just collected this summer; its fruit is used to color masa when totopoxtli
(sweet, ruffled tortillas) are made for Corpus Christi. I havenºt found
to:mohtli in any other sources to date.


By the way, I have put up a few notes on
http://www.balsas-nahuatl.org/ethnobiology . They are quite random for now.
The chapolin one discusses a general approach.




Nahuatl mailing list
Nahuatl at lists.famsi.org

More information about the Nahuat-l mailing list