When there is a Y and when there isn't

Michael McCafferty mmccaffe at indiana.edu
Fri Feb 8 00:46:23 UTC 2013

Class 1 verbs ending in -ia are hard to find, true enough.

One comes to mind, but it can go three ways: cozahuia:

preterit: ocozahuiz, ocozahuiac, ocozahuix

I believe the rare orthographic -ia verbs Class 1 are usually /-iya/.


Quoting Frances Karttunen <karttu at comcast.net>:

> In spoken Nahuatl, the difference between the vowel-vowel sequence ia
>  and the sequence with an intervening glide iya is generally
> inaudible. There are, however, morphological distinctions.  For
> instance, the intervocalic y of chiya and piya reveals its presence
> when it becomes word-final or is followed by a consonant. Then the y
> changes its quality: the preterite stem of chiya is chix, and the x
> also shows up in nouns  derived from the preterite stem like
> teo:pixqui 'priest' from piya.
> There is no obvious reason to choose miyac/miyec over miac/miec
> 'much, many' since the context never puts the y (if there is one)
> into a context in which it could change to x.
> What is more, there is no way to tell whether a verb written as
> ending in ia will be an invariant Class 1 verb like ihya:ya 'to
> stink' that just adds a preterite -c/-queh; a class 2 verb that has a
>  preterite stem that drops the final vowel and changes y to x like
> piya and chiya and some others; or a Class 3 verb that doesn't have a
>  y in there at all and forms its preterite stem by dropping the final
>  a and adding a glottal stop: aquia 'to adjust something' where the
> preterite stem is aquih.  (In An Analytical Dictionary of Nahuatl,
> for strictly morphological reasons, I give the canonical form of this
>  class of verbs as ending in i followed by a long vowel a:.)
> It is precisely because there is no way of telling from the
> traditional spelling(s) or even from hearing a form in isolation,
> whether one is dealing with iya or ia  that Molina uses the
> convention of including the preterite form with every verb entry in
> his dictionary.
> Fran
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