linguistic hypertrophism

Ben Leeming bleeming at
Fri Nov 18 13:25:23 UTC 2011

Hola todos listeros!
I come to you seeking to tap into your collective knowledge of our beloved
colonial Nahuatl sources (crowd-sourcing?) in an effort to further develop
my database of words that fall into a category that Bierhorst terms
"linguistic hypertrophism" (1985:47).  You know the words I am talking
about, those wonderfully long strings of morphemes such as: *
tiquetzalzacuanxiuhquecholhuihuicomacan* (“let’s make
troupial-and-turquiose swan plumes twirl” [from *Cantares Mexicanos*, Bierhorst
1985:47]) and *onquetzalchalchiuhtlapitzalicaoacatiaque* (“They went
chirping like flutes of quetzal-green jade” [Burkhart 1992:96, quoting from
the *Psalmodia Christiana *of Sahagún]).  I have always loved these words
and have now decided to investigate them more methodically.  I was hoping
you might be able to steer me in the direction of additional examples of
this phenomenon, or towards specific sources that you suspect contain them.
 Additionally, if you know of any authors who have addressed this
phenomenon (either for Nahuatl or any other language) I would appreciate
that information, too.  My initial inquiries suggest that this is a topic
that has not yet been addressed.

Thank you in advance for your help!


Ben Leeming
PhD Student
Department of Anthropology
University at Albany, SUNY
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