Nahuatl word classes

John Sullivan idiez at
Thu Jan 3 00:29:02 UTC 2013

Are you sure "notoca" is working as a verb here? If the "i" of n(i) elides, why is that first "o" there? I know that in colonial Western Nahuatl, under the influence of Spanish, tocaitl gets reinterpreted as a verb (nimotoca Juan, "I call myself Juan"), but I haven't seen very many examples of that.

On Jan 2, 2013, at 6:20 PM, Magnus Pharao Hansen <magnuspharao at> wrote:

> I believe both Launey and Dakin write about the possibility of an underlying -yi- in those two words. I don't know the form "notocah" "my name" from any dialects - I only know "notocayoh" "my name" (formed with the -yo- inalienable possesion suffix) and the verb notoca "I call myself" (with the ni- suffix elided because it is redundant) - in Hueyapan and classical at least. In Zongolica the unpossessed word for "name" is tocaitl (which probably has an underlying -y- glide between a and i), but the possessed form is notocayoh. 
> best,
> M
> On 2 January 2013 19:00, John Sullivan <idiez at> wrote:
> 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.
> John
> 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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> -- 
> Magnus Pharao Hansen
> PhD. student
> Department of Anthropology
> Brown University                          
> 128 Hope St.
> Providence, RI 02906
> magnus_pharao_hansen at
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