scratching the surface

Jonathan Amith jdanahuatl at
Mon Apr 9 15:41:05 UTC 2012

Hi all,

I missed the discussion on tataka. In Oapan Nahuatl tatakal- occurs in
words relating to unevenness. The following are from my notes, hence might
have errors.

\ref 01149
\lxam ta:takaltik
\lxam_c ta:takaltik
\lxoa ta:takaltik
\lxoa_c ta:takaltik
\psm Adj
\der Adj-dvb-wi-tik
\lexical Lex. rdp-l; Op. <kn>te-</kn> : <kamoa>teta:takaltik</kamoa>
\sense_e to be uneven; to have a lot of bumps; to be bumpy (surfaces of
objects that have small shallow despressions even though they were worked
and smoothed, such as a piece
of worked wood that has not been polished)
\sense_s estar desigual; no estar plano (la superficie de objetos tener
pequeñas depresiones aunque se estaba trabajado para dejarla plana y lisa,
como un trozo de madera que no
ha sido pulida)
\sense_d Pending
\phrase_n Xkwaltla:li noyugoh. Newa xwel nihkwaltla:lia, san
tetsatsapaltik, san ta:takaltik.
\phrase_d Am
\phrase_e Fix my yoke (in this case by making sure it is straight and
evenly planed). I can't fix it, its just bumpy and uneven.
\phrase_s Arregla mi yujo (en este caso trabajándolo para que vaya
derechito y esté bien cepillado). No lo puedo componer yo, está disparejo y
no muy plano.
\sense_e to be bumpy (an excavation such as a long ditch, with some parts
deeper than others)
\sense_s estar desnivelado; estar lleno de o tener muchos baches (una
excavación, como una zanja, tener algunas partes más profundas que otras)
\sense_d Pending
\phrase_n Ta:takaltik isurkoh, san kanah o:kasitiki:s, kanah ka,
\phrase_d Am
\phrase_e His furrow is bumpy, in some places he got it good (with the
plow), in some places he didn't, he just bounced along (without sinking the
plowshare well into the ground).
\phrase_s Su surco quedócomo lleno de baches, en algunos lugares atinóbien,
en otros no, solamente iba atinándole por aquíy por acá (sin lograr meter
la reja del arado en la
tierra bien).
\sense_e to be ragged (e.g., hair that is unevenly and poorly cut)
\sense_s estar trasquilado (p. ej., el cabello mal cortado)
\sense_d Pending
\phrase_n Ta:takaltik itson.
\phrase_d Am
\phrase_e His hair is unevenly cut.
\phrase_s Está trasquilado su cabello.
\phrase_n Ta:takaltik, xpestik o:kixi:nkeh.
\phrase_d Am
\phrase_e His hair is ragged, they didn't give him a smooth haircut.
\phrase_s Está trasquilado su cabello, no le cortaron el pelo bien (plano).
\sem texture
\root takal

\ref 03094
\lxam ta:takalowa
\lxam_c kita:takalowa
\lxoa ta:takalowa
\lxoa_c kita:takalowa
\psm V2
\infv class-2b
\der V2-alt-wi
\trans ~Intrans
\lexical Lex. rdp-l
\sense_e to leave or make uneven (the surface of sth, e.g., in trying to
sand sth smooth, making certain sections concave); to leave or make bumpy
(e.g., in excavating or digging, a
ditch for example, so that certain sections are deeper than others and the
bottom goes up and down)
\sense_s dejar desigual o no plano (la superficie de algo, p. ej., en lijar
algo, poniendo demasiado presión y dejando algunas partes con pequeñas
depresiones); dejar desigual;
hacer que no estéplano (p. ej., en excavar, por ejemplo una zanja, para que
algunas secciones son más profundas que otras y el fondo sube y baja
\sense_d Pending
\sense_e to cut unevenly (hair, leaving some sections very short and others
\sense_s trasquilar (el cabello, dejando unas partes cortas y otras largas)
\sense_d Pending
\phrase_n O:kita:takaloh, xkwahli o:kixi:n. Xpestik, to:tolopoxtik.
\phrase_d Am
\phrase_e He cut it (another person's hair) unevenly, he didn't give him a
good haircut. It isn't smooth, it' uneven.
\phrase_s Lo trasquiló (el cabello de algn), no le cortóel pelo bien. No
está liso, está disparejo.
\sem distort-surface
\root takal
\nsem The common meaning of <kamoa>ta:takalowa</kamoa> seems to be to alter
the surface of something (in the meanings above a hard material such as
wood, the ground, or even a
head of hair) leaving some sections with a deeper "indentation" than
others). Molina has <kn>tacaliui. ni</kn> 'estar desollado o roçado de
algun golpe que me di.' Here again the
common sense seems to be one of leaving a surface somewhat pitted or
abraded. It's use has been documented with the act of plowing land and
cutting hair, leaving some areas
with deeper cuts than others.
\nmorf Apparently this verb, although usually documented with a long vowel
in the reduplicant may also occur with a short vowel. However, the degree
to which such short vowel
reduplication is used is not clear, nor is the meaning of such a form.

\ref 03893
\lxam kwa:ta:takaltik
\lxam_c kwa:ta:takaltik
\lxoa kwa:ta:takaltik
\lxoa_c kwa:ta:takaltik
\psm Adj
\compound N-Adj
\der Adj-dvb-wi-tik
\lexical Lex. rdp-l
\sense_e to have unevenly and roughly cut hair
\sense_s tener el cabello cortado medio tusado, disparejo
\sense_d Pending
\phrase_n Xkwa:pestik, kwa:ta:takaltik.
\phrase_d Am
\phrase_e His hair isn't cut smoothly, it is uneven.
\phrase_s Su cabello no está cortado parejo, está disparejo.
\phrase_n Kwa:ta:takaltik, tetewistik itson, o:kixi:nkeh ka:nah uwekatlan,
ka:nah wekapan.
\phrase_d Am
\phrase_e His hair is roughly cut, it is bumpy. In some places they cut his
hair short, in other places they left it long.
\phrase_s Su cabello está trasquilado, está disparejo. En algunos lugares
lele cortaron el pelo cortito, en otros lugares lo dejaron largo.
\phrase_n Tikwa:ta:takaltik, o:mitsxi:nkeh san ke:n ihki.
\phrase_d Am
\phrase_e You hair is unevenly cut, they cut your hair just in any which
\phrase_s Tu cabello está trasquilado, te cortaron comoquiera.
\root kwa:
\root taka
\nsem Oapan and Ameyaltepec both have <kn>kwa:ta:takaltik</kn> with similar
if not identical meanings. However, whereas Ameyaltepec also has
<klam>tsonta:takaltik</klam> with
the same meaning, Oapan only has the former.
\nmorf In one example phrase whereas <kam>kwa:ta:takaltik</kam> is
reduplicated with a long vowel, probably because of the implicit meaning
'here and there,' and the fact that the
action of cutting hair is a deliberate event, other words in the same
phrase and referring (as adjectivals) to the same situation are
reduplicated with a short vowel:
<kam>tetewistik</kam> and <kam>uwekatlan</kam>, while a third adjectival is
not reduplicated at all: <kam>wekapan</kam>. This illustrates quite well
the difficulty in ascribing
a single semantic meaning to reduplication without sensitivity to the
nature of the event or situation, i.e., the verbal or adjectival semantics.

On Mon, Apr 2, 2012 at 6:49 PM, Campbell, R. Joe <campbel at>wrote:

> Michael,
>  I checked Brian Stubbs' _Uto-Aztecan: A Comparative Vocabulary_ and
> couldn't find a /taka/ that was related to "dig".  Maybe someone else can
> look better.
> Joe
> Quoting Michael McCafferty <mmccaffe at>:
>  Do you all suppose that in the verb /tataka/, the first ta- is an old
>> reduplicative prefix? In other words, do you think the original
>> (Proto-Nahuatl?)  form was */taka/?
>> Thank you for your thoughts.
>> Michael
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