Nahuatl word classes

Magnus Pharao Hansen magnuspharao at
Thu Jan 3 00:20:52 UTC 2013

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*.


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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> > Nahuatl mailing list
> > Nahuatl at
> >

Magnus Pharao Hansen
PhD. student
Department of Anthropology

Brown University
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