Help:IPA for Nahuatl

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The charts below show the way in which the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) represents Nahuatl pronunciations in Wikipedia articles. This pronunciation guide is based on the phonology of Classical Nahuatl, and is not valid for many contemporary Nahuatl dialects.

Phoneme Spelling English approximation
ʔ h[2] the catch in "oh-oh"
j y yellow
k qu,[3] c[4] scan
cu,[5] uc[4] squeak
l l[2] leave (not dark l as in "dull")
ɬ l (before a voiceless consonant) Welsh Lloyd
m m man
n n[6] nose
p p span
s c,[3] z[4] sack
ʃ x shoe
t t stand
t͡ɬ tl no English equivalent
t͡ʃ ch choo
t͡s tz cats
w hu[5], uh[4] witch
ʍ hu[5], uh[4] which (for those who don't pronounce this like 'witch')
Phoneme Spelling English approximation
a a bra
ā (long a)
e e met
ē mate
i i city
ī see
o o go[7]
ō go
ˈ Primary stress on penultimate syllable (placed before the stressed syllable)
Nahuatl has four possible syllable clusters CVC, CV, VC and V[8][9]
example: CVC-CVC-CV tlal-huac-tli[8]
Modern & Variant Orthography[10]
Modern Variant
Huītzilopōchtli, xiuhpōhualli Vītzilopōchtli, xiuhpōvalli
huīpīlli, huei teocalli uīpīlli, uei teocalli
aztecah, azo, zaoc, za açtecah, aço, çaoc, ça
iyo, in, ipan, itzcuīntli yyo, yn, ypan, ytzcuīntli
cuahuitl, macuahuitl quahuitl, maquahuitl
tlahtohqueh tlàtòquê


  1. ^ Consonants can be geminated, including /l/ (spelled as ll, but not pronounced as in Spanish) (Andrews 2003, p. 33).
  2. ^ a b No Nahuatl words begin with an /l/ or a glottal stop /ʔ/ (Andrews 2003, p. 29; Karttunen 1992, p. XI).
  3. ^ a b Before e and i.
  4. ^ a b c d e All other cases.
  5. ^ a b c Before vowels.
  6. ^ The "n" is Nahuatl's most weakly pronounced consonant (Lockhart 2001, p. 112).
  7. ^ The Nahuatl /o/ doesn't quite line up with any English vowel, though the nearest equivalents are the vowel of coat (for most English dialects) and the vowel of saw.
  8. ^ a b Canger, U. Ochpaniztli and Classical Nahuatl syllable structure. University of Copenhagen.
  9. ^ Nahuatl words cannot start or end with two consonants. Only Nahuatl verbs can end in two vowels (Lockhart 2001, pp. 120-121).
  10. ^ Andrews 2003, p. 655-658


  • Andrews, J. Richard (2003). Introduction to classical Nahuatl (rev. ed.). Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 24–38. ISBN 0-8061-3452-6. 
  • Karttunen, Frances (1992). An analytical dictionary of Nahuatl. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 0-8061-2421-0. 
  • Launey, Michel (2011). Mackay, Christopher, ed. An Introduction to Classical Nahuatl. Cambridge University Press. pp. 4–5. 
  • Lockhart, James (2001). Nahuatl as written: lessons in older written Nahuatl, with copious examples and texts (Orig. print ed.). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press [u.a.] ISBN 0-8047-4282-0.