What writing system(s) does this language use?
Before the Spanish colonization of Mexico, Nahuatl was not actually written. When a text needed to be written, a special style of drawing that followed specific rules was used. Those drawings often served more as reminders than actual written stories.
After the arrival of the Spaniards, Nahuatl was written in a variant of the Spanish script that is still usually used today.
- cu is pronounced like qu in queen.It is written uc at the end of words or before a consonant.
- qu, c, s, z
- hu is pronounced like w. It is written uh at the end of words or before a consonant.
How many people speak this language?
Approximatively 1.7 million speak Nahuatl as a native language.
Where is this language spoken?
Nahuatl is spoken in Mexico. Its speakers are found in a large part of the country, but are mostly concentrated West and Southwest of Mexico City, in the states of Puebla, Veracruz, Guerrero, and Hidalgo.
What is the history of this language?
Nahuatl is known to have been spoken for nearly a millennium. Classical Nahuatl was a language of administration and culture. After the arrival of the Spanish, Nahuatl, unlike several Native American languages, was frequently written for communication, and literate Aztecs and Spaniards transcribed legends,songs and poetry, as well as letters to lords. Since the classical Nahuatl era, the dialects of Nahuatl have become quite different, and many are now considered languages separate from each others, although the term "Nahuatl" is still used to describe the group.
Nezahualpilli was not only ruler of the city state Texcoco from 1473 to 1515 but was also a poet. Unfortunately only one of his poems still exist. It is called "Icuic Nezahualpilli yc tlamato huexotzinco" ("Song of Nezahualpilli during the war with Huexotzinco").
There are other poems and poets who wrote in Nahuatl but unfortunately no one is sure who the poets were that wrote the poems that are still in existence.
What are some basic words in this language that I can learn?
- calli: house
- cihuātl: woman
- cochi: to sleep
- cualli: good, something good
- cuīcatl: song
- ehēcatl: wind
- itta: to see
- miqui: to die
- oquichtli: man
- tlahtoa: to speak
- ce: one
- ome: two
- yei: three
- nahui: four
- macuilli: five
- chicuace: six
- chicome: seven
- chicueyi: eight
- chiconahui: nine
- ma'tlactli: ten
- ni mits neki: i love you
- ahuacatl: avocado
- xipotli: a dried (red) jalapeño
What is a simple song/poem/story that I can learn in this language?
Quititi, quititi, quiti tocoto, tocoti tocoto tocoti zan ic mocueptiuh.
1. Ma xochicuicoya ma ichtoa nichuana ayyahue teyhuinti xochitl ao ya noyehcoc ye nica poyoma xahuallan timaliuhtihuitz ay yo.
2. Ma xochitl oyecoc ye nican ayyahuc can tlaahuixochitla moyahuaya motzetzeloa ancazo yehuatl in nepapaxochitl ayyo. Zan commoni huchuetl ma ya netotilo.
3. Yn quetzal poyomatl ayc ihcuilihuic noyol nicuicanitl in xochitl ayan tzetzelihui ya ancuel ni cuiya ma xonahuacan ayio zan noyolitic ontlapanion cuicaxochitl nicyamoyahuaya yxoochitla.
4. Cuicatl ya ninoquinilotehuaz in quemmanian xochineneliuhtiaz noyollo yehuan tepilhuan oonteteuctin in ca yio.
5. Zan ye ic nichoca in quemanian zan nicaya ihtoa noxochiteyo nocuicatoca nictlalitehuaz in quemanian xochineneliuhtiaz, etc.
Quititi, quititi, quiti tocoto, tocoti, tocoto, tocoti, then it is to turn back again.
1. Let me pluck flowers, let me see them, let me gather the really intoxicating flowers; the flowers are ready, many colored, varied in hue, for our enjoyment.
2. The flowers are ready here in this retired spot, this spot of fragrant flowers, many sorts of flowers are poured down and scattered about; let the drum be ready for the dance.
3. I the singer take and pour down before you from my soul the beautiful poyomatl, not to be painted, and other flowers; let us rejoice, while I alone within my soul disclose the songs of flowers, and scatter them abroad in the place of flowers.
4. I shall leave my songs in order that sometime I may mingle the flowers of my heart with the children and the nobles.
5. I weep sometimes as I see that I must leave the earth and my flowers and songs, that sometime these flowers will be vain and useless.
- Launey, Michel : Introduction à la langue et à la littérature aztèques. Paris 1980
- Nahuatl, Wikipedia, 20 September 2007 http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Nahuatl&oldid=158862825
- Classical Nahuatl, Wikipedia, 20 September 2007 http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Classical_Nahuatl&oldid=158889994
- Classical Nahuatl grammar, Wikipedia, 20 September 2007 http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Classical_Nahuatl_grammar&oldid=158861043
- Ancient Nahuatl Poetry by Daniel Garrison Brinton, Project Gutenberg, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/12219/12219-h/12219-h.htm
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