Nahuatl word classes

John Sullivan idiez at
Thu Jan 3 00:00:14 UTC 2013

Piyali Magnus huan notequixpoyohuan,
	I have always wondered why in Eastern Huastecan Nahuatl the following alternate forms exist:
1. arm/hand
a). nomah, "my arm". nomahpil, "my finger.
b). ima:cuayo:, "its branch"

2. name
a). noto:cah, "my name"
b). to:ca:xtia:, nic., "to name s.t. or s.o."
c). noto:ca:yo:, "my godfather, godson of a male"

I've always assumed that the final aspiration on the possessive forms (nomah, noto:cah) is an alternate form of the devoiced "yi" that you mention. I discarded the possibility of it being "-uh" because I've never seen this possessor suffix used with either word in other variants. And in Huastecan Nahuatl, h vs uh before a consonant (mahcahua vs cauhqui) and in a word final position (cuaciyah vs noamauh) are very hard to tell apart.

On Jan 1, 2013, at 9:49 PM, Magnus Pharao Hansen <magnuspharao at> wrote:

> Dear John and listeros
> Thanks for the explanations.
> some responses:
> 2. Ok, so the -x is the remnant of the /yi/ ending (this means that in La
> Huasteca the phonological forms are underlyingly /tokayitl/ and /ma:yitl/).
> This would not be recognized by speakers of central dialects.
> 4. I am not giving an account of how these words are formed, they are
> clearly fromed from verbs and nouns. But they function like property words
> that form stative predicates.
> 5. kwalli works as a verb in that its primary syntactic function is to form
> predicates "kwalli inon" 'tehwah tikwalli" etc. And it is not very nouny
> ()although obviously it originated as a noun because it neither accepts
> plural or possessive morphology, and hardly ever occurs as the argument of
> a verb as nouns prototypically do.
> best,
> M
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