Nahuatl (English: /ˈnɑːwɑːtəl/; Nahuatl pronunciation: [ˈnaːwatɬ] (listen)),[cn 1] known historically as Aztec, is a language or group of languages of the Uto-Aztecan language family. Varieties of Nahuatl are spoken by about 1.7 million Nahua peoples, most of whom live in central Mexico.
Nahuatl has been spoken in central Mexico since at least the seventh century CE. It was the language of the Aztecs, who dominated what is now central Mexico during the Late Postclassic period of Mesoamerican history. During the centuries preceding the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, the Aztecs had expanded to incorporate a large part of central Mexico, and their influence caused the variety of Nahuatl spoken by the residents of Tenochtitlan to become a prestige language in Mesoamerica. At the conquest, with the introduction of the Latin alphabet, Nahuatl also became a literary language, and many chronicles, grammars, works of poetry, administrative documents and codices were written in it during the 16th and 17th centuries. This early literary language based on the Tenochtitlan variety has been labeled Classical Nahuatl, and is among the most studied and best-documented languages of the Americas.
Today, Nahuan languages are spoken in scattered communities, mostly in rural areas throughout central Mexico and along the coastline. There are considerable differences among varieties, and some are not mutually intelligible. Huasteca Nahuatl, with over one million speakers, is the most-spoken variety. All varieties have been subject to varying degrees of influence from Spanish. No modern Nahuan languages are identical to Classical Nahuatl, but those spoken in and around the Valley of Mexico are generally more closely related to it than those on the periphery. Under Mexico's General Law of Linguistic Rights of the Indigenous Peoples promulgated in 2003, Nahuatl and the other 63 indigenous languages of Mexico are recognized as lenguas nacionales ("national languages") in the regions where they are spoken, enjoying the same status as Spanish within their regions.[cn 2]
Nahuan languages exhibit a complex morphology characterized by polysynthesis and agglutination. Through a very long period of coexistence with the other indigenous Mesoamerican languages, they have absorbed many influences, coming to form part of the Mesoamerican language area. Many words from Nahuatl have been borrowed into Spanish and, from there, were diffused into hundreds of other languages. Most of these loanwords denote things indigenous to central Mexico which the Spanish heard mentioned for the first time by their Nahuatl names. English words of Nahuatl origin include "avocado", "chayote", "chili", "chocolate", "atlatl", "coyote", "peyote", "axolotl" and "tomato".
|Nāhuatl, Nāhuatlahtōlli, Mēxihcatlahtōlli, Mācēhuallahtōlli, Mēxihcacopa|
|Region||State of Mexico, Puebla, San Luis Potosi, Veracruz, Hidalgo, Guerrero, Morelos, Tlaxcala, Oaxaca, Michoacán, Chihuahua, Durango,|
and immigrants in United States, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Canada
Official language in
|Mexico (through the General Law of Linguistic Rights of Indigenous Peoples)|
|Regulated by||Instituto Nacional de Lenguas Indígenas|
For modern varieties, see Nahuan languages
As a language label, the term "Nahuatl" encompasses a group of closely related languages or divergent dialects within the Nahuan branch of the Uto-Aztecan language family. The Mexican Instituto Nacional de Lenguas Indígenas (National Institute of Indigenous Languages) recognizes 30 individual varieties within the "language group" labeled Nahuatl. The Ethnologue recognizes 28 varieties with separate ISO codes. Sometimes the label also is used to include the Pipil language (Nawat) of El Salvador. Regardless of whether "Nahuatl" is considered to label a dialect continuum or a group of separate languages, the varieties form a single branch within the Uto-Aztecan family, descended from a single Proto-Nahuan language. Within Mexico, the question of whether to consider individual varieties to be languages or dialects of a single language is highly political. This article focuses on describing the general history of the group and on giving an overview of the diversity it encompasses. For details on individual varieties or subgroups, see the individual articles.
In the past, the branch of Uto-Aztecan to which Nahuatl belongs has been called "Aztecan". From the 1990s onward, the alternative designation "Nahuan" has been frequently used as a replacement, especially in Spanish-language publications. The Nahuan (Aztecan) branch of Uto-Aztecan is widely accepted as having two divisions: "General Aztec" and Pochutec.
General Aztec encompasses the Nahuatl and Pipil languages.[cn 3] Pochutec is a scantily attested language, which became extinct in the 20th century, and which Campbell and Langacker classify as being outside of general Aztec. Other researchers have argued that Pochutec should be considered a divergent variant of the western periphery.
"Nahuatl" denotes at least Classical Nahuatl together with related modern languages spoken in Mexico. The inclusion of Pipil into the group is debated. Lyle Campbell (1997) classified Pipil as separate from the Nahuatl branch within general Aztecan, whereas dialectologists like Una Canger, Karen Dakin, Yolanda Lastra and Terrence Kaufman have preferred to include Pipil within the General Aztecan branch, citing close historical ties with the eastern peripheral dialects of General Aztec.
Current subclassification of Nahuatl rests on research by Canger (1980), Canger (1988) and Lastra de Suárez (1986). Canger introduced the scheme of a Central grouping and two Peripheral groups, and Lastra confirmed this notion, differing in some details. Canger & Dakin (1985) demonstrated a basic split between Eastern and Western branches of Nahuan, considered to reflect the oldest division of the proto-Nahuan speech community. Canger originally considered the central dialect area to be an innovative subarea within the Western branch, but in 2011, she suggested that it arose as an urban koiné language with features from both Western and Eastern dialect areas. Canger (1988) tentatively included dialects of La Huasteca in the Central group, while Lastra de Suárez (1986) places them in the Eastern Periphery, which was followed by Kaufman (2001).
The terminology used to describe varieties of spoken Nahuatl is inconsistently applied. Many terms are used with multiple denotations, or a single dialect grouping goes under several names. Sometimes, older terms are substituted with newer ones or with the speakers' own name for their specific variety. The word Nahuatl is itself a Nahuatl word, probably derived from the word nāhuatlahtōlli [naːwat͡laʔˈtoːlli] ("clear language"). The language was formerly called "Aztec" because it was spoken by the Central Mexican peoples known as Aztecs Nahuatl pronunciation: [asˈteːkah]. During the period of the Aztec empire centered in Mexico-Tenochtitlan the language came to be identified with the politically dominant mēxihcah [meːˈʃiʔkaʔ] ethnic group, and consequently the Nahuatl language was often described as mēxihcacopa [meːʃiʔkaˈkopa] (literally "in the manner of Mexicas") or mēxihcatlahtolli "Mexica language". Now, the term "Aztec" is rarely used for modern Nahuan languages, but linguists' traditional name of "Aztecan" for the branch of Uto-Aztecan that comprises Nahuatl, Pipil, and Pochutec is still in use (although some linguists prefer "Nahuan"). Since 1978, the term "General Aztec" has been adopted by linguists to refer to the languages of the Aztecan branch excluding the Pochutec language.
The speakers of Nahuatl themselves often refer to their language as either Mexicano or some word derived from mācēhualli, the Nahuatl word for "commoner". One example of the latter is the case for Nahuatl spoken in Tetelcingo, whose speakers call their language mösiehuali. The Pipil people of El Salvador do not call their own language "Pipil", as most linguists do, but rather nawat. The Nahuas of Durango call their language Mexicanero. Speakers of Nahuatl of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec call their language mela'tajtol ("the straight language"). Some speech communities use "Nahuatl" as the name for their language although it seems to be a recent innovation. Linguists commonly identify localized dialects of Nahuatl by adding as a qualifier the name of the village or area where that variety is spoken.
On the issue of geographic origin, the consensus of linguists during the 20th century was that the Uto-Aztecan language family originated in the southwestern United States. Evidence from archaeology and ethnohistory supports the thesis of a southward diffusion across the American continent, specifically that speakers of early Nahuan languages migrated from Aridoamerica into central Mexico in several waves. But recently, the traditional assessment has been challenged by Jane H. Hill, who proposes instead that the Uto-Aztecan language family originated in central Mexico and spread northwards at a very early date. This hypothesis and the analyses of data that it rests upon have received serious criticism.
The proposed migration of speakers of the Proto-Nahuan language into the Mesoamerican region has been placed at sometime around AD 500, towards the end of the Early Classic period in Mesoamerican chronology. Before reaching the Mexican Plateau, pre-Nahuan groups probably spent a period of time in contact with the Corachol languages Cora and Huichol of northwestern Mexico (which are also Uto-Aztecan).
The major political and cultural center of Mesoamerica in the Early Classic period was Teotihuacan. The identity of the language(s) spoken by Teotihuacan's founders has long been debated, with the relationship of Nahuatl to Teotihuacan being prominent in that enquiry. While in the 19th and early 20th centuries it was presumed that Teotihuacan had been founded by speakers of Nahuatl, later linguistic and archaeological research tended to disconfirm this view. Instead, the timing of the Nahuatl influx was seen to coincide more closely with Teotihuacan's fall than its rise, and other candidates such as Totonacan identified as more likely. But recently, evidence from Mayan epigraphy of possible Nahuatl loanwords in Mayan languages has been interpreted as demonstrating that other Mesoamerican languages may have been borrowing words from Proto-Nahuan (or its early descendants) significantly earlier than previously thought, bolstering the possibility of a significant Nahuatl presence at Teotihuacan.
In Mesoamerica the Mayan, Oto-Manguean and Mixe–Zoque languages had coexisted for millennia. This had given rise to the Mesoamerican language area ("language area" refers to a set of language traits have become common among the area's languages by diffusion and not by evolution within a set of languages belonging to a common genetic subgrouping). After the Nahuas migrated into the Mesoamerican cultural zone, their language too adopted some of the traits defining the Mesoamerican Linguistic Area. Examples of such adopted traits are the use of relational nouns, the appearance of calques, or loan translations, and a form of possessive construction typical of Mesoamerican languages.
A language which was the ancestor of Pochutec split from Proto-Nahuan (or Proto-Aztecan) possibly as early as AD 400, arriving in Mesoamerica a few centuries earlier than the main bulk of speakers of Nahuan languages. Some Nahuan groups migrated south along the Central American isthmus, reaching as far as Nicaragua. The critically endangered Pipil language of El Salvador is the only living descendant of the variety of Nahuatl once spoken south of present-day Mexico.
Beginning in the 7th century, Nahuan speakers rose to power in central Mexico. The people of the Toltec culture of Tula, which was active in central Mexico around the 10th century, are thought to have been Nahuatl speakers. By the 11th century, Nahuatl speakers were dominant in the Valley of Mexico and far beyond, with settlements including Azcapotzalco, Colhuacan and Cholula rising to prominence. Nahua migrations into the region from the north continued into the Postclassic period.
One of the last of these migrations to arrive in the Valley of Mexico settled on an island in the Lake Texcoco and proceeded to subjugate the surrounding tribes. This group was the Mexica, who over the course of the next three centuries founded an empire named Tenochtitlan. Their political and linguistic influence came to extend into Central America and Nahuatl became a lingua franca among merchants and elites in Mesoamerica, e.g., among the Maya K'iche' people. As Tenochtitlan grew to become the largest urban center in Central America and one of the largest in the world at the time, it attracted speakers of Nahuatl from diverse areas giving birth to an urban form of Nahuatl with traits from many dialects. This urbanized variety of Tenochtitlan is what came to be known as Classical Nahuatl as documented in colonial times.
With the arrival of the Spanish in 1519, Nahuatl was displaced as the dominant regional language, but remained important in Nahua communities under Spanish rule. There is extensive colonial-era documentation in Nahuatl for Tlaxcala, Cuernavaca, Culhuacan, Coyoacan, Toluca and other locations in the Valley of Mexico and beyond. Starting in the 1970s, scholars of Mesoamerican ethnohistory have analyzed local-level texts in Nahuatl and other indigenous languages to gain insight into cultural change in the colonial era via linguistic changes, known at present as the New Philology. A number of these texts have been translated and published in part or in their entirety. The types of documentation include censuses, especially a very early set from the Cuernavaca region, town council records from Tlaxcala, and testaments of individual Nahuas.
Since the Spanish made alliances with first the Nahuatl speakers from Tlaxcala and later with the conquered Mexica of Tenochtitlan (Aztecs), the Nahuatl continued spreading throughout Mesoamerica in the decades after the conquest. Spanish expeditions with thousands of Nahua soldiers marched north and south to conquer new territories. Society of Jesus missions in northern Mexico and the Southwestern United States often included a barrio of Tlaxcaltec soldiers who remained to guard the mission. For example, some fourteen years after the northeastern city of Saltillo was founded in 1577, a Tlaxcaltec community was resettled in a separate nearby village, San Esteban de Nueva Tlaxcala, to cultivate the land and aid colonization efforts that had stalled in the face of local hostility to the Spanish settlement. As for the conquest of modern-day Central America, Pedro de Alvarado conquered Guatemala with the help of tens of thousands of Tlaxcaltec allies, who then settled outside of modern-day Antigua Guatemala.
As a part of their missionary efforts, members of various religious orders (principally Franciscan and Dominican friars and Jesuits) introduced the Latin alphabet to the Nahuas. Within the first twenty years after the Spanish arrival, texts were being prepared in the Nahuatl language written in Latin characters. Simultaneously, schools were founded, such as the Colegio de Santa Cruz de Tlatelolco in 1536, which taught both indigenous and classical European languages to both Native Americans and priests. Missionary grammarians undertook the writing of grammars, also called artes, of indigenous languages for use by priests. The first Nahuatl grammar, written by Andrés de Olmos, was published in 1547—three years before the first French grammar. By 1645, four more had been published, authored respectively by Alonso de Molina (1571), Antonio del Rincón (1595), Diego de Galdo Guzmán (1642), and Horacio Carochi (1645). Carochi's is today considered the most important of the colonial era grammars of Nahuatl. Carochi has been particularly important for scholars working in the New Philology, such that there is a 2001 English translation of Carochi's 1645 grammar by James Lockhart. Through contact with Spanish the Nahuatl language adopted many loan words, and as bilingualism intensified, changes in the grammatical structure of Nahuatl followed.
In 1570, King Philip II of Spain decreed that Nahuatl should become the official language of the colonies of New Spain in order to facilitate communication between the Spanish and natives of the colonies. This led to Spanish missionaries teaching Nahuatl to Indians living as far south as Honduras and El Salvador. During the 16th and 17th centuries, Classical Nahuatl was used as a literary language, and a large corpus of texts from that period exists today. They include histories, chronicles, poetry, theatrical works, Christian canonical works, ethnographic descriptions, and administrative documents. The Spanish permitted a great deal of autonomy in the local administration of indigenous towns during this period, and in many Nahuatl-speaking towns the language was the de facto administrative language both in writing and speech. A large body of Nahuatl literature was composed during this period, including the Florentine Codex, a twelve-volume compendium of Aztec culture compiled by Franciscan Bernardino de Sahagún; Crónica Mexicayotl, a chronicle of the royal lineage of Tenochtitlan by Fernando Alvarado Tezozómoc; Cantares Mexicanos, a collection of songs in Nahuatl; a Nahuatl-Spanish/Spanish-Nahuatl dictionary compiled by Alonso de Molina; and the Huei tlamahuiçoltica, a description in Nahuatl of the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Grammars and dictionaries of indigenous languages were composed throughout the colonial period, but their quality was highest in the initial period. The friars found that learning all the indigenous languages was impossible in practice, so they concentrated on Nahuatl. For a time, the linguistic situation in Mesoamerica remained relatively stable, but in 1696, Charles II of Spain issued a decree banning the use of any language other than Spanish throughout the Spanish Empire. In 1770, another decree, calling for the elimination of the indigenous languages, did away with Classical Nahuatl as a literary language. Until Mexican Independence in 1821, the Spanish courts admitted Nahuatl testimony and documentation as evidence in lawsuits, with court translators rendering it in Spanish.
Throughout the modern period the situation of indigenous languages has grown increasingly precarious in Mexico, and the numbers of speakers of virtually all indigenous languages have dwindled. Although the absolute number of Nahuatl speakers has actually risen over the past century, indigenous populations have become increasingly marginalized in Mexican society. In 1895, Nahuatl was spoken by over 5% of the population. By 2000, this proportion had fallen to 1.49%. Given the process of marginalization combined with the trend of migration to urban areas and to the United States, some linguists are warning of impending language death. At present Nahuatl is mostly spoken in rural areas by an impoverished class of indigenous subsistence agriculturists. According to the Mexican national statistics institute, INEGI, 51% of Nahuatl speakers are involved in the farming sector and 6 in 10 receive no wages or less than the minimum wage.
From the early 20th century to at least the mid-1980s, educational policies in Mexico focused on the hispanicization (castellanización) of indigenous communities, teaching only Spanish and discouraging the use of indigenous languages. As a result, today there is no group of Nahuatl speakers having attained general literacy in Nahuatl; while their literacy rate in Spanish also remains much lower than the national average. Even so, Nahuatl is still spoken by well over a million people, of whom around 10% are monolingual. The survival of Nahuatl as a whole is not imminently endangered, but the survival of certain dialects is, and some dialects have already become extinct within the last few decades of the 20th century.
The 1990s saw the onset of a radical change in official Mexican government policies towards indigenous and linguistic rights. Developments of accords in the international rights arena[cn 4] combined with domestic pressures (such as social and political agitation by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation and indigenous social movements) led to legislative reforms and the creation of decentralized government agencies like the National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples (CDI) and the Instituto Nacional de Lenguas Indígenas (INALI) with responsibilities for the promotion and protection of indigenous communities and languages. In particular, the federal Ley General de Derechos Lingüísticos de los Pueblos Indígenas ["General Law on the Language Rights of the Indigenous Peoples", promulgated 13 March 2003] recognizes all the country's indigenous languages, including Nahuatl, as "national languages" and gives indigenous people the right to use them in all spheres of public and private life. In Article 11, it grants access to compulsory, bilingual and intercultural education. Nonetheless, progress towards institutionalizing Nahuatl and securing linguistic rights for its speakers has been slow.
|State of Mexico||55,802||0.43%|
|San Luis Potosí||138,523||6.02%|
|Rest of Mexico||50,132||0.10%|
Today, a spectrum of Nahuan languages are spoken in scattered areas stretching from the northern state of Durango to Tabasco in the southeast. Pipil, the southernmost Nahuan language, is spoken in El Salvador by a small number of speakers. According to IRIN-International, the Nawat Language Recovery Initiative project, there are no reliable figures for the contemporary numbers of speakers of Pipil. Numbers may range anywhere from "perhaps a few hundred people, perhaps only a few dozen".
According to the 2000 census by INEGI, Nahuatl is spoken by an estimated 1.45 million people, some 198,000 (14.9%) of whom are monolingual. There are many more female than male monolinguals, and women represent nearly two thirds of the total number. The states of Guerrero and Hidalgo have the highest rates of monolingual Nahuatl speakers relative to the total Nahuatl speaking population, at 24.2% and 22.6%, respectively. For most other states the percentage of monolinguals among the speakers is less than 5%. This means that in most states more than 95% of the Nahuatl speaking population are bilingual in Spanish.
The largest concentrations of Nahuatl speakers are found in the states of Puebla, Veracruz, Hidalgo, San Luis Potosí, and Guerrero. Significant populations are also found in the State of Mexico, Morelos, and the Federal District, with smaller communities in Michoacán and Durango. Nahuatl became extinct in the states of Jalisco and Colima during the 20th century. As a result of internal migration within the country, Nahuatl speaking communities exist in all states in Mexico. The modern influx of Mexican workers and families into the United States has resulted in the establishment of a few small Nahuatl speaking communities in that country, particularly in California, New York, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.
Nahuan languages are defined as a subgroup of Uto-Aztecan by having undergone a number of shared changes from the Uto-Aztecan protolanguage (PUA). The table below shows the phonemic inventory of Classical Nahuatl as an example of a typical Nahuan language. In some dialects, the /t͡ɬ/ phoneme, so common in Classical Nahuatl, has changed into either /t/, as in Isthmus Nahuatl, Mexicanero and Pipil, or into /l/, as in Nahuatl of Pómaro, Michoacán. Many dialects no longer distinguish between short and long vowels. Some have introduced completely new vowel qualities to compensate, as is the case for Tetelcingo Nahuatl. Others have developed a pitch accent, such as Nahuatl of Oapan, Guerrero. Many modern dialects have also borrowed phonemes from Spanish, such as /b, d, ɡ, f/.
In many Nahuatl dialects vowel length contrast is vague, and in others it has become lost entirely. The dialect of Tetelcingo (nhg) developed the vowel length into a difference in quality:
|Long vowels||Short vowels|
Most varieties have relatively simple patterns of sound alternation (allophony). In many dialects, the voiced consonants are devoiced in word-final position and in consonant clusters: /j/ devoices to a voiceless palato-alveolar sibilant /ʃ/, /w/ devoices to a voiceless glottal fricative [h] or to a voiceless labialized velar approximant [ʍ], and /l/ devoices to voiceless alveolar lateral fricative [ɬ]. In some dialects, the first consonant in almost any consonant cluster becomes [h]. Some dialects have productive lenition of voiceless consonants into their voiced counterparts between vowels. The nasals are normally assimilated to the place of articulation of a following consonant. The voiceless alveolar lateral affricate [t͡ɬ] is assimilated after /l/ and pronounced [l].
Classical Nahuatl and most of the modern varieties have fairly simple phonological systems. They allow only syllables with maximally one initial and one final consonant. Consonant clusters occur only word-medially and over syllable boundaries. Some morphemes have two alternating forms: one with a vowel i to prevent consonant clusters and one without it. For example, the absolutive suffix has the variant forms -tli (used after consonants) and -tl (used after vowels). Some modern varieties, however, have formed complex clusters from vowel loss. Others have contracted syllable sequences, causing accents to shift or vowels to become long.[cn 5]
Most Nahuatl dialects have stress on the penultimate syllable of a word. In Mexicanero from Durango, many unstressed syllables have disappeared from words, and the placement of syllable stress has become phonemic.
The Nahuatl languages are agglutinative, polysynthetic languages that make extensive use of compounding, incorporation and derivation. That is, they can add many different prefixes and suffixes to a root until very long words are formed, and a single word can constitute an entire sentence.
The Nahuatl noun has a relatively complex structure. The only obligatory inflections are for number (singular and plural) and possession (whether the noun is possessed, as is indicated by a prefix meaning 'my', 'your', etc.). Nahuatl has neither case nor gender, but Classical Nahuatl and some modern dialects distinguish between animate and inanimate nouns. In Classical Nahuatl the animacy distinction manifested with respect to pluralization, as only animate nouns could take a plural form, and all inanimate nouns were uncountable (as the words "bread" and "money" are uncountable in English). Now, many speakers do not maintain this distinction and all nouns may take the plural inflection. One dialect, that of the Eastern Huasteca, has a distinction between two different plural suffixes for animate and inanimate nouns.
In most varieties of Nahuatl, nouns in the unpossessed singular form generally take an "absolutive" suffix. The most common forms of the absolutive are -tl after vowels, -tli after consonants other than l, and -li after l. Nouns that take the plural usually form the plural by adding one of the plural absolutive suffixes -tin or -meh, but some plural forms are irregular or formed by reduplication. Some nouns have competing plural forms.
Plural animate noun:
Plural animate noun w. reduplication:
Nahuatl distinguishes between possessed and unpossessed forms of nouns. The absolutive suffix is not used on possessed nouns. In all dialects, possessed nouns take a prefix agreeing with number and person of its possessor. Possessed plural nouns take the ending -/waːn/.
Nahuatl does not have grammatical case but uses what is sometimes called a relational noun to describe spatial (and other) relations. These morphemes cannot appear alone but must occur after a noun or a possessive prefix. They are also often called postpositions or locative suffixes. In some ways these locative constructions resemble and can be thought of as locative case constructions. Most modern dialects have incorporated prepositions from Spanish that are competing with or that have completely replaced relational nouns.
Uses of relational noun/postposition/locative -pan with a possessive prefix:
Use with a preceding noun stem:
Noun compounds are commonly formed by combining two or more nominal stems or combining a nominal stem with an adjectival or verbal stem.
Nahuatl generally distinguishes three persons, both in the singular and plural numbers. In at least one modern dialect, the Isthmus-Mecayapan variety, there has come to be a distinction between inclusive (I/we and you) and exclusive (we but not you) forms of the first person plural:
First person plural pronoun in Classical Nahuatl:
First person plural pronouns in Isthmus-Mecayapan Nahuat:
Much more common is an honorific/non-honorific distinction, usually applied to second and third persons but not first.
The Nahuatl verb is quite complex and inflects for many grammatical categories. The verb is composed of a root, prefixes, and suffixes. The prefixes indicate the person of the subject, and person and number of the object and indirect object, whereas the suffixes indicate tense, aspect, mood and subject number.
Most Nahuatl dialects distinguish three tenses: present, past, and future, and two aspects: perfective and imperfective. Some varieties add progressive or habitual aspects. Many dialects distinguish at least the indicative and imperative moods, and some also have optative and vetative/prohibitive moods.
Most Nahuatl varieties have a number of ways to alter the valency of a verb. Classical Nahuatl had a passive voice (also sometimes defined as an impersonal voice), but this is not found in most modern varieties. However the applicative and causative voices are found in many modern dialects. Many Nahuatl varieties also allow forming verbal compounds with two or more verbal roots.
The following verbal form has two verbal roots and is inflected for causative voice and both a direct and indirect object:
Some Nahuatl varieties, notably Classical Nahuatl, can inflect the verb to show the direction of the verbal action going away from or towards the speaker. Some also have specific inflectional categories showing purpose and direction and such complex notions as "to go in order to" or "to come in order to", "go, do and return", "do while going", "do while coming", "do upon arrival", or "go around doing".
Classical Nahuatl and many modern dialects have grammaticalised ways to express politeness towards addressees or even towards people or things that are being mentioned, by using special verb forms and special "honorific suffixes".
Familiar verbal form:
Honorific verbal form:
Many varieties of Nahuatl have productive reduplication. By reduplicating the first syllable of a root a new word is formed. In nouns this is often used to form plurals, e.g. /tlaːkatl/ "man" → /tlaːtlaːkah/ "men", but also in some varieties to form diminutives, honorifics, or for derivations. In verbs reduplication is often used to form a reiterative meaning (i.e. expressing repetition), for example in Nahuatl of Tezcoco:
Some linguists have argued that Nahuatl displays the properties of a non-configurational language, meaning that word order in Nahuatl is basically free. Nahuatl allows all possible orderings of the three basic sentence constituents. It is prolifically a pro-drop language: it allows sentences with omission of all noun phrases or independent pronouns, not just of noun phrases or pronouns whose function is the sentence subject. In most varieties independent pronouns are used only for emphasis. It allows certain kinds of syntactically discontinuous expressions.
Michel Launey argues that Classical Nahuatl had a verb-initial basic word order with extensive freedom for variation, which was then used to encode pragmatic functions such as focus and topicality. The same has been argued for some contemporary varieties.
It has been argued that Classical Nahuatl syntax is best characterised by "omnipredicativity", meaning that any noun or verb in the language is in fact a full predicative sentence. A radical interpretation of Nahuatl syntactic typology, this nonetheless seems to account for some of the language's peculiarities, for example, why nouns must also carry the same agreement prefixes as verbs, and why predicates do not require any noun phrases to function as their arguments. For example, the verbal form tzahtzi means "he/she/it shouts", and with the second person prefix titzahtzi it means "you shout". Nouns are inflected in the same way: the noun "conētl" means not just "child", but also "it is a child", and ticonētl means "you are a child". This prompts the omnipredicative interpretation, which posits that all nouns are also predicates. According to this interpretation a phrase such as tzahtzi in conētl should not be interpreted as meaning just "the child screams" but, rather, "it screams, (the one that) is a child".
Nearly 500 years of intense contact between speakers of Nahuatl and speakers of Spanish, combined with the minority status of Nahuatl and the higher prestige associated with Spanish has caused many changes in modern Nahuatl varieties, with large numbers of words borrowed from Spanish into Nahuatl, and the introduction of new syntactic constructions and grammatical categories.
For example, a construction like the following, with several borrowed words and particles, is common in many modern varieties (Spanish loanwords in boldface):
In some modern dialects basic word order has become a fixed subject–verb–object, probably under influence from Spanish. Other changes in the syntax of modern Nahuatl include the use of Spanish prepositions instead of native postpositions or relational nouns and the reinterpretation of original postpositions/relational nouns into prepositions. In the following example, from Michoacán Nahual, the postposition -ka meaning "with" appears used as a preposition, with no preceding object:
In this example from Mexicanero Nahuat, of Durango, the original postposition/relational noun -pin "in/on" is used as a preposition. Also, "porque", a conjunction borrowed from Spanish, occurs in the sentence.
Many Nahuatl words have been borrowed into the Spanish language, most of which are terms designating things indigenous to the American continent. Some of these loans are restricted to Mexican or Central American Spanish, but others have entered all the varieties of Spanish in the world. A number of them, such as "chocolate", "tomato" and "avocado" have made their way into many other languages via Spanish.
For instance, in English, two of the most prominent are undoubtedly chocolate[cn 8] and tomato (from Nahuatl tomatl). Other common words are coyote (from Nahuatl coyotl), avocado (from Nahuatl ahuacatl) and chile or chili (from Nahuatl chilli). The word chicle is also derived from Nahuatl tzictli "sticky stuff, chicle". Some other English words from Nahuatl are: Aztec (from aztecatl); cacao (from Nahuatl cacahuatl 'shell, rind'); ocelot (from ocelotl). In Mexico many words for common everyday concepts attest to the close contact between Spanish and Nahuatl - so many in fact that entire dictionaries of "mexicanismos" (words particular to Mexican Spanish) have been published tracing Nahuatl etymologies, as well as Spanish words with origins in other indigenous languages. Many well known toponyms also come from Nahuatl, including Mexico (from the Nahuatl word for the Aztec capital mexihco) and Guatemala (from the word cuauhtēmallan).[cn 9]
Traditionally, Pre-Columbian Aztec writing has not been considered a true writing system, since it did not represent the full vocabulary of a spoken language in the way that the writing systems of the Old World or the Maya Script did. Therefore, generally Aztec writing was not meant to be read, but to be told. The elaborate codices were essentially pictographic aids for memorizing texts, which include genealogies, astronomical information, and tribute lists. Three kinds of signs were used in the system: pictures used as mnemonics (which do not represent particular words), logograms which represent whole words (instead of phonemes or syllables), and logograms used only for their sound values (i.e. used according to the rebus principle). However, epigrapher Alfonso Lacadena has argued that by the eve of the Spanish invasion, one school of Nahua scribes, those of Tetzcoco, had developed a fully syllabic script which could represent spoken language phonetically in the same way that the Maya script did. Some other epigraphers have questioned the claim, arguing that although the syllabicity was clearly extant in some early colonial manuscripts (hardly any pre-Columbian manuscripts have survived), this could be interpreted as a local innovation inspired by Spanish literacy rather than a continuation of a pre-Columbian practice.
The Spanish introduced the Latin script, which was used to record a large body of Aztec prose, poetry and mundane documentation such as testaments, administrative documents, legal letters, etc. In a matter of decades pictorial writing was completely replaced with the Latin alphabet. No standardized Latin orthography has been developed for Nahuatl, and no general consensus has arisen for the representation of many sounds in Nahuatl that are lacking in Spanish, such as long vowels and the glottal stop. The orthography most accurately representing the phonemes of Nahuatl was developed in the 17th century by the Jesuit Horacio Carochi, building on the insights of another Jesuit, Antonio del Rincon. Carochi's orthography used two different diacritics: a macron to represent long vowels and a grave for the saltillo, and sometimes an acute accent for short vowels. This orthography did not achieve a wide following outside of the Jesuit community.
When Nahuatl became the subject of focused linguistic studies in the 20th century, linguists acknowledged the need to represent all the phonemes of the language. Several practical orthographies were developed to transcribe the language, many using the Americanist transcription system. With the establishment of Mexico's Instituto Nacional de Lenguas Indígenas in 2004, new attempts to create standardized orthographies for the different dialects were resumed; however to this day there is no single official orthography for Nahuatl. Apart from dialectal differences, major issues in transcribing Nahuatl include:
Among the indigenous languages of the Americas, the extensive corpus of surviving literature in Nahuatl dating as far back as the 16th century may be considered unique. Nahuatl literature encompasses a diverse array of genres and styles, the documents themselves composed under many different circumstances. It appears that the preconquest Nahua had a distinction much like the European distinction between "prose" and "poetry", the first called tlahtolli "speech" and the second cuicatl "song".
Nahuatl tlahtolli prose has been preserved in different forms. Annals and chronicles recount history, normally written from the perspective of a particular altepetl (locally based polity) and often combining mythical accounts with real events. Important works in this genre include those from Chalco written by Chimalpahin, from Tlaxcala by Diego Muñoz Camargo, from Mexico-Tenochtitlan by Fernando Alvarado Tezozomoc and those of Texcoco by Fernando Alva Ixtlilxochitl. Many annals recount history year-by-year and are normally written by anonymous authors. These works are sometimes evidently based on pre-Columbian pictorial year counts that existed, such as the Cuauhtitlan annals and the Anales de Tlatelolco. Purely mythological narratives are also found, like the "Legend of the Five Suns", the Aztec creation myth recounted in Codex Chimalpopoca.
One of the most important works of prose written in Nahuatl is the twelve-volume compilation generally known as the Florentine Codex, produced in the mid-16th century by the Franciscan missionary Bernardino de Sahagún with the help of a number of Nahua informants. With this work Sahagún bestowed an enormous ethnographic description of the Nahua, written in side-by-side translations of Nahuatl and Spanish and illustrated throughout by color plates drawn by indigenous painters. Its volumes cover a diverse range of topics: Aztec history, material culture, social organization, religious and ceremonial life, rhetorical style and metaphors. The twelfth volume provides an indigenous perspective on the conquest itself. Sahagún also made a point of trying to document the richness of the Nahuatl language, stating:
This work is like a dragnet to bring to light all the words of this language with their exact and metaphorical meanings, and all their ways of speaking, and most of their practices good and evil.
Nahuatl poetry is preserved in principally two sources: the Cantares Mexicanos and the Romances de los señores de Nueva España, both collections of Aztec songs written down in the 16th and 17th centuries. Some songs may have been preserved through oral tradition from pre-conquest times until the time of their writing, for example the songs attributed to the poet-king of Texcoco, Nezahualcoyotl. Karttunen & Lockhart (1980) identify more than four distinct styles of songs, e.g. the icnocuicatl ("sad song"), the xopancuicatl ("song of spring"), melahuaccuicatl ("plain song") and yaocuicatl ("song of war"), each with distinct stylistic traits. Aztec poetry makes rich use of metaphoric imagery and themes and are lamentation of the brevity of human existence, the celebration of valiant warriors who die in battle, and the appreciation of the beauty of life.
The Aztecs distinguished between at least two social registers of language: the language of commoners (macehuallahtolli) and the language of the nobility (tecpillahtolli). The latter was marked by the use of a distinct rhetorical style. Since literacy was confined mainly to these higher social classes, most of the existing prose and poetical documents were written in this style. An important feature of this high rhetorical style of formal oratory was the use of parallelism, whereby the orator structured their speech in couplets consisting of two parallel phrases. For example:
Another kind of parallelism used is referred to by modern linguists as difrasismo, in which two phrases are symbolically combined to give a metaphorical reading. Classical Nahuatl was rich in such diphrasal metaphors, many of which are explicated by Sahagún in the Florentine Codex and by Andrés de Olmos in his Arte. Such difrasismos include:
The sample text below is an excerpt from a statement issued in Nahuatl by Emiliano Zapata in 1918 in order to convince the Nahua towns in the area of Tlaxcala to join the Revolution against the regime of Venustiano Carranza. The orthography employed in the letter is improvised, and does not distinguish long vowels and only sporadically marks "saltillo" (with both ⟨h⟩ and acute accent).
Message to be passed around
The Aztec or Mexica calendar is the calendar system that was used by the Aztecs as well as other Pre-Columbian peoples of central Mexico. It is one of the Mesoamerican calendars, sharing the basic structure of calendars from throughout ancient Mesoamerica.
The calendar consisted of a 365-day calendar cycle called xiuhpōhualli (year count) and a 260-day ritual cycle called tōnalpōhualli (day count). These two cycles together formed a 52-year "century", sometimes called the "calendar round". The xiuhpōhualli is considered to be the agricultural calendar, since it is based on the sun, and the tōnalpōhualli is considered to be the sacred calendar...Aztec mythology
Aztec mythology is the body or collection of myths of Aztec civilization of Central Mexico. The Aztecs were Nahuatl-speaking groups living in central Mexico and much of their mythology is similar to that of other Mesoamerican cultures. According to legend, the various groups who were to become the Aztecs arrived from the north into the Anahuac valley around Lake Texcoco. The location of this valley and lake of destination is clear – it is the heart of modern Mexico City – but little can be known with certainty about the origin of the Aztec. There are different accounts of their origin. In the myth the ancestors of the Mexica/Aztec came from a place in the north called Aztlan, the last of seven nahuatlacas (Nahuatl-speaking tribes, from tlaca, "man") to make the journey southward, hence their name "Azteca." Other accounts cite their origin in Chicomoztoc, "the place of the seven caves," or at Tamoanchan (the legendary origin of all civilizations).
The Mexica/Aztec were said to be guided by their god Huitzilopochtli, meaning "Left-handed Hummingbird" or "Hummingbird from the South." At an island in Lake Texcoco, they saw an eagle holding a rattlesnake in its talons, perched on a nopal cactus. This vision fulfilled a prophecy telling them that they should found their new home on that spot. The Aztecs built their city of Tenochtitlan on that site, building a great artificial island, which today is in the center of Mexico City. This legendary vision is pictured on the Coat of Arms of Mexico.Aztec writing
Aztec or Nahuatl writing is pre-Columbian writing system that combines ideographic writing with Nahuatl specific phonetic logograms and syllabic signs which was used in central Mexico by the Nahua people. The majority of the Aztec codices were burned either by Aztec tlatoani (emperors) for ideological reasons, or by Spanish clergy following the conquest of Mesoamerica. Remaining Aztec codices such as Codex Mendoza, Codex Borbonicus, and Codex Osuna were written on deer hide and plant fiber.Aztecs
The Aztecs () were a Mesoamerican culture that flourished in central Mexico in the post-classic period from 1300 to 1521. The Aztec peoples included different ethnic groups of central Mexico, particularly those groups who spoke the Nahuatl language and who dominated large parts of Mesoamerica from the 14th to the 16th centuries. Aztec culture was organized into city-states (altepetl), some of which joined to form alliances, political confederations, or empires. The Aztec Empire was a confederation of three city-states established in 1427, Tenochtitlan, city-state of the Mexica or Tenochca; Texcoco; and Tlacopan, previously part of the Tepanec empire, whose dominant power was Azcapotzalco. Although the term Aztecs is often narrowly restricted to the Mexica of Tenochtitlan, it is also broadly used to refer to Nahua polities or peoples of central Mexico in the prehispanic era, as well as the Spanish colonial era (1521–1821). The definitions of Aztec and Aztecs have long been the topic of scholarly discussion, ever since German scientist Alexander von Humboldt established its common usage in the early nineteenth century.Most ethnic groups of central Mexico in the post-classic period shared basic cultural traits of Mesoamerica, and so many of the traits that characterize Aztec culture cannot be said to be exclusive to the Aztecs. For the same reason, the notion of "Aztec civilization" is best understood as a particular horizon of a general Mesoamerican civilization. The culture of central Mexico includes maize cultivation, the social division between nobility (pipiltin) and commoners (macehualtin), a pantheon (featuring Tezcatlipoca, Tlaloc and Quetzalcoatl), and the calendric system of a xiuhpohualli of 365 days intercalated with a tonalpohualli of 260 days. Particular to the Mexica of Tenochtitlan was the patron God Huitzilopochtli, twin pyramids, and the ceramic ware known as Aztec I to IV.From the 13th century, the Valley of Mexico was the heart of dense population and the rise of city-states. The Mexica were late-comers to the Valley of Mexico, and founded the city-state of Tenochtitlan on unpromising islets in Lake Texcoco, later becoming the dominant power of the Aztec Triple Alliance or Aztec Empire. It was a tributary empire that expanded its political hegemony far beyond the Valley of Mexico, conquering other city states throughout Mesoamerica in the late post-classic period. It originated in 1427 as an alliance between the city-states Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, and Tlacopan; these allied to defeat the Tepanec state of Azcapotzalco, which had previously dominated the Basin of Mexico. Soon Texcoco and Tlacopan were relegated to junior partnership in the alliance, with Tenochtitlan the dominant power. The empire extended its reach by a combination of trade and military conquest. It was never a true territorial empire controlling a territory by large military garrisons in conquered provinces, but rather dominated its client city-states primarily by installing friendly rulers in conquered territories, by constructing marriage alliances between the ruling dynasties, and by extending an imperial ideology to its client city-states. Client city-states paid tribute to the Aztec emperor, the Huey Tlatoani, in an economic strategy limiting communication and trade between outlying polities, making them dependent on the imperial center for the acquisition of luxury goods. The political clout of the empire reached far south into Mesoamerica conquering polities as far south as Chiapas and Guatemala and spanning Mesoamerica from the Pacific to the Atlantic oceans.
The empire reached its maximal extent in 1519, just prior to the arrival of a small group of Spanish conquistadors led by Hernán Cortés. Cortés allied with city-states opposed to the Mexica, particularly the Nahuatl-speaking Tlaxcalteca as well as other central Mexican polities, including Texcoco, its former ally in the Triple Alliance. After the fall of Tenochtitlan on August 13, 1521 and the capture of the emperor Cuauhtemoc, the Spanish founded Mexico City on the ruins of Tenochtitlan. From there they proceeded with the process of conquest and incorporation of Mesoamerican peoples into the Spanish Empire. With the destruction of the superstructure of the Aztec Empire in 1521, the Spanish utilized the city-states on which the Aztec Empire had been built, to rule the indigenous populations via their local nobles. Those nobles pledged loyalty to the Spanish crown and converted, at least nominally, to Christianity, and in return were recognized as nobles by the Spanish crown. Nobles acted as intermediaries to convey tribute and mobilize labor for their new overlords, facilitating the establishment of Spanish colonial rule.Aztec culture and history is primarily known through archaeological evidence found in excavations such as that of the renowned Templo Mayor in Mexico City; from indigenous writings; from eyewitness accounts by Spanish conquistadors such as Cortés and Bernal Díaz del Castillo; and especially from 16th- and 17th-century descriptions of Aztec culture and history written by Spanish clergymen and literate Aztecs in the Spanish or Nahuatl language, such as the famous illustrated, bilingual (Spanish and Nahuatl), twelve-volume Florentine Codex created by the Franciscan friar Bernardino de Sahagún, in collaboration with indigenous Aztec informants. Important for knowledge of post-conquest Nahuas was the training of indigenous scribes to write alphabetic texts in Nahuatl, mainly for local purposes under Spanish colonial rule. At its height, Aztec culture had rich and complex mythological and religious traditions, as well as achieving remarkable architectural and artistic accomplishments.Aztlán
Aztlán (from Nahuatl languages: Aztlān, Nahuatl pronunciation: [ˈast͡ɬaːn] (listen)) is the ancestral home of the Aztec peoples. Aztecah is the Nahuatl word for "people from Aztlan". Aztlan is mentioned in several ethnohistorical sources dating from the colonial period, and each of them give different lists of the different tribal groups who participated in the migration from Aztlan to central Mexico, but the Mexica who went on to found Mexico-Tenochtitlan are mentioned in all of the accounts. Historians have speculated about the possible location of Aztlan and tend to place it either in northwestern Mexico or the southwest US, although there are doubts about whether the place is purely mythical or represents a historical reality.Classical Nahuatl
Classical Nahuatl (also known simply as Aztec or Nahuatl) is any of the variants of Nahuatl, spoken in the Valley of Mexico and central Mexico as a lingua franca at the time of the 16th-century Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire. During the subsequent centuries, it was largely displaced by Spanish and evolved into some of the modern Nahuan languages in use today (other modern dialects descend more directly from other 16th-century variants). Although classified as an extinct language, Classical Nahuatl has survived through a multitude of written sources transcribed by Nahua peoples and Spaniards in the Latin script.Cuitláhuac
Cuitláhuac (Spanish pronunciation: [kwiˈtɬawak] (listen), modern Nahuatl pronunciation ) (c. 1476 – 1520) or Cuitláhuac (in Spanish orthography; Nahuatl languages: Cuitlāhuac, Nahuatl pronunciation: [kʷiˈt͡ɬaːwak], honorific form: Cuitlahuatzin) was the 10th tlatoani (ruler) of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan for 80 days during the year Two Flint (1520). He is credited with leading the Mexica resistance to the Spanish invasion, following the death of his kinsman Moctezuma II.Hominy
Hominy is a food produced from dried maize (corn) kernels that have been treated with an alkali, in a process called nixtamalization (nextamalli is the Nahuatl word for "hominy").Huītzilōpōchtli
In the Aztec religion, Huitzilopochtli (Classical Nahuatl: Huītzilōpōchtli [wiːt͡siloːˈpoːt͡ʃt͡ɬi], modern Nahuatl pronunciation ) is a deity of war, sun, human sacrifice, and the patron of the city of Tenochtitlan. He was also the national god of the Mexicas, also known as Aztecs, of Tenochtitlan. Many in the pantheon of deities of the Aztecs were inclined to have a fondness for a particular aspect of warfare. However, Huitzilopochtli was known as the primary god of war in ancient Mexico. Since he was the patron god of the Mexica, he was credited with both the victories and defeats that the Mexica people had on the battlefield. The people had to make sacrifices to him to protect the Aztec from infinite night. He wielded Xiuhcoatl as a weapon, associating him with fire.
As noted by the Spaniards during their discovery and conquest of Mexico, human sacrifice was common in worship ceremonies, which took place frequently and in numerous temples throughout the region, and when performed they typically sacrificed multiple victims per day at a given temple.Mexica
The Mexica (Nahuatl: Mēxihcah, Nahuatl pronunciation: [meːˈʃiʔkaʔ] (listen) (singular Mēxihcatl [meːˈʃiʔkat͡ɬ]) or Mexicas were a Nahuatl-speaking indigenous people of the Valley of Mexico who were the rulers of the Aztec Empire. This group was also known as the Culhua-Mexica in recognition of its kinship alliance with the neighboring Culhua, descendants of the revered Toltecs, who occupied the Toltec capital of Tula from the tenth through twelfth centuries. The Mexica were additionally referred to as the "Tenochca", a term associated with the name of their altepetl (city-state), Tenochtitlan, and Tenochtitlan's founding leader, Tenoch. The Mexica established Mexico Tenochtitlan, a settlement on an island in Lake Texcoco. A dissident group in Mexico-Tenochtitlan separated and founded the settlement of Mexico-Tlatelolco with its own dynastic lineage. The name Aztec was coined by Alexander von Humboldt who combined "Aztlan" ("place of the heron"), their mythic homeland, and "tec(atl)", 'people of'. The term Aztec is often used very broadly to refer not only to the Mexica, but also to the Nahuatl-speaking peoples or Nahuas of the Valley of Mexico and neighboring valleys.Mexican Spanish
Mexican Spanish (Spanish: español mexicano) is a set of varieties of the Spanish language as spoken in Mexico and in some parts of the United States and Canada.
Spanish was brought to Mexico in the 16th century. As in all other Spanish-speaking countries (including Spain), different accents and varieties of the language exist in different parts of the country, for both historical and sociological reasons. Among these, the varieties that are best known outside of the country are those of central Mexico—both educated and uneducated varieties—largely because the capital, Mexico City, hosts most of the mass communication media with international projection. For this reason, most of the film dubbing identified abroad with the label "Mexican Spanish" or "Latin American Spanish" actually corresponds to the central Mexican variety.
Mexico City was built on the site of Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire. Besides the Aztecs or Mexica, the region was home to many other Nahuatl-speaking cultures as well; consequently many speakers of Nahuatl continued to live there and in the surrounding region, outnumbering the Spanish-speakers, and the Spanish of central Mexico incorporated a significant number of Hispanicized Nahuatl words and cultural markers. At the same time, as a result of Mexico City's central role in the colonial administration of New Spain, the population of the city included a relatively large number of speakers from Spain, and the city and the neighboring State of Mexico tended historically to exercise a standardizing effect over the language of the entire central region of the country.Nahuan languages
The Nahuan or Aztecan languages are those languages of the Uto-Aztecan language family that have undergone a sound change, known as Whorf's law, that changed an original *t to /tɬ/ before *a. Subsequently, some Nahuan languages have changed this /tɬ/ to /l/ or back to /t/, but it can still be seen that the language went through a /tɬ/ stage. The best known Nahuan language is Nahuatl.
Some authorities, such as the Mexican government, Ethnologue, and Glottolog, consider the varieties of modern Nahuatl to be distinct languages, because they are often mutually unintelligible and their speakers have distinct ethnic identities. As of 2008, the Mexican government recognizes thirty varieties that are spoken in Mexico as languages (see the list below).
Researchers distinguish between several dialect areas that each have a number of shared features: One classification scheme distinguishes innovative central dialects, spoken around Mexico City, from conservative peripheral ones spoken north, south and east of the central area, while another scheme distinguishes a basic split between western and eastern dialects. Nahuan languages include not just varieties known as Nahuatl, but also Pipil and the extinct Pochutec language.Nahuas
The Nahuas () are a group of indigenous people of Mexico and El Salvador. The Nahua comprise the largest indigenous group in Mexico and second largest group in El Salvador.Their Uto-Aztecan languages, Nahuatl and Pipil (Nawat), consist of many dialects, several of which are mutually unintelligible. About 1.5 million Nahuas speak Nahuatl and another million speak only Spanish. Less than 1,000 native speakers of Nahuatl remain in El Salvador.Evidence suggests the Nahua peoples originated in Aridoamerica, in regions of the present day northwestern Mexico. They split off from the other Uto-Aztecan speaking peoples and migrated into central Mexico around 500 CE. The Nahua then settled in and around the Basin of Mexico and spread out to become the dominant people in central Mexico.Pozole
Pozole (Nahuatl languages: pozolli Spanish pronunciation: [po'sole], pozole), which means "hominy", is a traditional soup or stew from Mexican Cuisine. It is made from hominy, with meat (typically pork), and can be seasoned and garnished with shredded lettuce or cabbage, chile peppers, onion, garlic, radishes, avocado, salsa or limes. Pozole is typically served on New Year's Eve to celebrate the new year.It is a typical dish in various states such as Nayarit, Sinaloa, Michoacán, Guerrero, Zacatecas, Jalisco, and Morelos. Pozole is served in Mexican restaurants worldwide and is also popular in New Mexico where it was a common dish among the Pueblo Indians residing along the Rio Grande River in New Mexico.Pozole is frequently served as a celebratory dish throughout Mexico and in Mexican communities outside Mexico. Common occasions include Mexico Independence Day, birthdays, Christmas and other holidays.Quetzalcoatl
Quetzalcoatl (; Spanish: [ketsalˈkoatɬ] (listen); Classical Nahuatl: Quetzalcohuātl [ket͡saɬˈkowaːt͡ɬ], in honorific form: Quetzalcohuātzin, modern Nahuatl pronunciation ) is a deity in Mesoamerican culture and literature whose name comes from the Nahuatl language and means "feathered serpent" or "Quetzal-feathered Serpent". The worship of a Feathered Serpent is first documented in Teotihuacan in the first century BC or first century AD. That period lies within the Late Preclassic to Early Classic period (400 BC – 600 AD) of Mesoamerican chronology, and veneration of the figure appears to have spread throughout Mesoamerica by the Late Classic period (600–900 AD).In the Postclassic period (900–1519 AD), the worship of the feathered serpent deity was based in the primary Mexican religious center of Cholula. It is in this period that the deity is known to have been named "Quetzalcoatl" by his Nahua followers. In the Maya area, he was approximately equivalent to Kukulkan and Gukumatz, names that also roughly translate as "feathered serpent" in different Mayan languages.
Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec god of wind, air, and learning, wears around his neck the "wind breastplate" ehecailacocozcatl, "the spirally voluted wind jewel" made of a conch shell. This talisman was a conch shell cut at the cross-section and was likely worn as a necklace by religious rulers, as they have been discovered in burials in archaeological sites throughout Mesoamerica, and potentially symbolized patterns witnessed in hurricanes, dust devils, seashells, and whirlpools, which were elemental forces that had significance in Aztec mythology. In codex drawings, both Quetzalcoatl and Xolotl were pictured wearing an ehecailacocozcatl around the neck. There has additionally been at least one major cache of offerings with knives and idols adorned with the symbols of more than one god, some of which were adorned with wind jewels.In the era following the 16th-century Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire, a number of sources were written that conflate Quetzalcoatl with Ce Acatl Topiltzin, a ruler of the mythico-historic city of Tollan. It is a matter of much debate among historians to which degree, or whether at all, these narratives about this legendary Toltec ruler describe historical events. Furthermore, early Spanish sources written by clerics tend to identify the god-ruler Quetzalcoatl of these narratives with either Hernán Cortés or Thomas the Apostle—an identification which is also a source of a diversity of opinions about the nature of Quetzalcoatl.Among the Aztecs, whose beliefs are the best-documented in the historical sources, Quetzalcoatl was related to gods of the wind, of the planet Venus, of the dawn, of merchants and of arts, crafts and knowledge. He was also the patron god of the Aztec priesthood, of learning and knowledge. Quetzalcoatl was one of several important gods in the Aztec pantheon, along with the gods Tlaloc, Tezcatlipoca and Huitzilopochtli. Two other gods represented by the planet Venus are Quetzalcoatl's ally Tlaloc who is the god of rain, and Quetzalcoatl's twin and psychopomp, who is named Xolotl.
Animals thought to represent Quetzalcoatl include resplendent quetzals, rattlesnakes (coatl meaning serpent in Nahuatl), crows, and macaws. In his form as Ehecatl he is the wind, and is represented by spider monkeys, ducks, and the wind itself. In his form as the morning star, Venus, he is also depicted as a harpy eagle. In Mazatec legends, the astrologer deity Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli, who is also represented by Venus, bears a close relationship with Quetzalcoatl.Tenochtitlan
Tenochtitlan (Nahuatl languages: Tenōchtitlan pronounced [tenoːt͡ʃˈtit͡ɬan]; Spanish: Tenochtitlán), also known as Mexica-Tenochtitlan (Nahuatl languages: Mēxihco Tenōchtitlan pronounced [meːˈʃiʔko tenoːt͡ʃˈtit͡ɬan]; Spanish: México-Tenochtitlán), was a large Mexica city-state in what is now the center of Mexico City. The exact date of the founding of the city is unclear, but the most commonly accepted date is March 13, 1325. The city was built on an island in what was then Lake Texcoco in the Valley of Mexico. The city was the capital of the expanding Aztec Empire in the 15th century until it was captured by the Spanish in 1521.
At its peak, it was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas. It subsequently became a cabecera of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Today, the ruins of Tenochtitlan are in the historic center of the Mexican capital. The World Heritage Site of Xochimilco contains what remains of the geography (water, boats, floating gardens) of the Mexica capital. Nowhere was the Aztec Empire's power and wealth more visible than it's capital, Tenochtitlán
Tenochtitlan was one of two Mexica āltēpetl (city-states or polities) on the island, the other being Tlatelolco.Tlatoani
Tlatoani (Classical Nahuatl: tlahtoāni pronounced [t͡ɬaʔtoˈaːni] (listen), "one who speaks, ruler"; plural tlahtohqueh [t͡ɬaʔˈtoʔkeʔ] or tlatoque) is the Classical Nahuatl term for the ruler of an āltepētl, a pre-Hispanic state. It may be translated into English as "king". A cihuātlahtoāni (Nahuatl pronunciation: [siwaːt͡ɬaʔtoˈaːni] (listen)) is a female ruler, or queen regnant.The term cuauhtlatoani refers to "vice-leader". The leaders of the Mexica prior to their settlement are sometimes referred to as cuauhtlatoque, as are those colonial rulers who were not descended from the ruling dynasty.
The ruler's lands were called tlahtohcātlālli [t͡ɬaʔtoʔkaːˈt͡ɬaːlːi] (listen) and the ruler's house was called tlahtohcācalli [t͡ɬaʔtoʔkaːˈkalːi] (listen)The city-states of the Aztec Empire each had their own Tlatoani or leader. He would be the high priest and military leader for his city-state. He would be considered their commander-in-chief. As the Tlatoani he would make every decision for his city-state from taxes to warfare. He would often be a descendant of the royal family; however in some cases he would be elected. Since the Tlatoani was allowed to have several wives his legacy would be easily maintained. After being established as the Tlatoani, he would be the Tlatoani of his region for life. The Tlatoani was chosen by a council of elders, nobles, and priests. He would be selected from a pool of four candidates.Tuesday
Tuesday is the day of the week between Monday and Wednesday. According to international standard ISO 8601, it is the second day of the week. According to some commonly used calendars, however, especially in the United States, it is the third day of the week. The English name is derived from Old English Tiwesdæg and Middle English Tewesday, meaning "Tīw's Day", the day of Tiw or Týr, the god of single combat, and law and justice in Norse mythology. Tiw was equated with Mars in the interpretatio germanica, and the name of the day is a translation of Latin dies Martis.Xōchiquetzal
In Aztec mythology, Xochiquetzal (Classical Nahuatl: Xōchiquetzal [ʃoːtʃiˈketsaɬ]), also called Ichpochtli Classical Nahuatl: Ichpōchtli [itʃˈpoːtʃtɬi], meaning "maiden", was a goddess associated with concepts of fertility, beauty, and female sexual power, serving as a protector of young mothers and a patroness of pregnancy, childbirth, and the crafts practised by women such as weaving and embroidery. In pre-Hispanic Maya culture, a similar figure is Goddess I.
Note: The list of official languages is ordered by decreasing size of population.
Italics indicate extinct languages