|Region||State of Mexico, Puebla, Veracruz, Hidalgo, Guerrero, Morelos, Tlaxcala, Oaxaca, Michoacán, Durango,
and immigrants in United States, El Salvador, Guatemala and Canada
|1.5 million (2000)|
Official language in
|Regulated by||Instituto Nacional de Lenguas Indígenas|
For modern varieties, see List of Nahuan languages.
Nahuatl (//; Nahuatl pronunciation: /ˈnaːwatɬ/ ( )[cn 1]), known informally as Aztec, is a language or group of languages of the Uto-Aztecan language family. Varieties of Nahuatl are spoken by an estimated 1.5 million Nahua people, most of whom live in Central Mexico. All Nahuan languages are indigenous to Mesoamerica.
Nahuatl has been spoken in Central Mexico since at least the 7th century AD. 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 Mexico, the Aztec Empire had expanded to incorporate a large part of central Mexico, and its 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 Nahuatl varieties[cn 2] 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 mutually unintelligible. Huasteca Nahuatl, with over 1 million speakers, is the most-spoken variety. They have all been subject to varying degrees of influence from Spanish. No modern Nahuatl 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 Ley General de Derechos Lingüísticos de los Pueblos Indígenas ("General Law on the Linguistic Rights of 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 region.[cn 3]
Nahuatl languages exhibit a complex morphology characterized by polysynthesis and agglutination. Through centuries of coexistence with the other indigenous Mesoamerican languages, Nahuatl has absorbed many influences, coming to form part of the Mesoamerican Linguistic Area. Many words from Nahuatl have been borrowed into Spanish, and since 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".
- 1 Place of Nahuatl within Uto-Aztecan
- 2 History
- 3 Geographic distribution
- 4 Subclassification of Nahuatl dialects
- 5 Phonology
- 6 Grammar
- 7 Vocabulary
- 8 Writing and literature
- 9 Sample text
- 10 See also
- 11 Notes
- 12 Bibliography
- 13 Further reading
- 14 External links
Place of Nahuatl within Uto-Aztecan
In the past, the branch of Uto-Aztecan to which Nahuatl belongs was called "Aztecan". From the 1990s on, 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 4] Pochutec is a scantily attested language which went extinct in the 20th century which Campbell and Langacker classify as being outside of general Aztec. Other researchers argue 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 (Nawat) into the group is slightly controversial. Lyle Campbell classifies Pipil as separate from the Nahuatl branch within general Aztecan, whereas dialectologists like Una Canger, Karen Dakin and Yolanda Lastra prefer to include Pipil in the General Aztecan branch, citing close historical ties with the eastern peripheral dialects of General Aztec.
On the issue of geographic origin, linguists during the 20th century agreed that the Uto-Aztecan language family originated in the southwestern United States. Evidence from archaeology and ethnohistory supports a southward diffusion across the American continent thesis, specifically that speakers of early Nahuan languages migrated from the northern Mexican deserts 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 purported 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 central altiplano, pre-Nahuan groups probably spent a period of time in contact with the Coracholan 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–Zoquean language families had coexisted for millennia. This had given rise to the Mesoamerican Linguistic Area (a linguistic area being one where 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 perhaps as far as Nicaragua. The moribund 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 (or Mexihka), 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 Quiché (K'iche') Maya. As Tenochtitlan grew to become the largest urban center in Central America, 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 documented in colonial times.
With the arrival of the Spanish in 1519, the tables were turned on the Nahuatl language: it 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 others in the Valley of Mexico and beyond. Since the 1970s, scholars working in a branch of Mesoamerican ethnohistory known as the New Philology have translated to English and analyzed a great number of this type of documentation. Since the Spanish made alliances with first the Nahuatl speakers from Tlaxcala and later with the conquered Mexica of Tenochtitlan or Aztecs, the Nahuatl language 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. Jesuit missions in northern Mexico and the southwestern US region often included a barrio of Tlaxcaltec soldiers who remained to guard the mission. For example, some fourteen years after the northeastern city of Saltillo, Coahuila, 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.
As a part of their missionary efforts, members of various religious orders (principally Fransciscan friars, 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 Indians and priests. Missionary grammarians undertook the writing of grammars[cn 5] 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.
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 the 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 is in existence today. Texts from this period 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 Nahuatl 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 the Virgin 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 King Charles II 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.
|San Luis Potosí||138,523||6.02%|
|Rest of Mexico||50,132||0.10%|
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 hispanization (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 diametric changes in official Mexican government policies towards indigenous and linguistic rights. Developments of accords in the international rights arena[cn 6] combined with domestic pressures[cn 7] led to legislative reforms and the creation of decentralized government agencies like CDI and 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.
In February 2008 the mayor of Mexico City, Marcelo Ebrard, launched a drive to have all government employees learn Nahuatl. Ebrard stated he would continue institutionalizing Nahuatl and that it was important for Mexico to remember its history and its tradition.
Today, a spectrum of Nahuatl varieties are spoken in an scattered areas stretching from the northern state of Durango to Veracruz in the southeast. Pipil (also known as Nawat), 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 / Nawat. Numbers may range anywhere from "perhaps a few hundred people, perhaps only a few dozen."
According to the 2000 census of the Mexican statistical institute 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 females 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 Mexico State, 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 migrations within the country, Nahuatl speaking communities exist in all of Mexico's states. 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.
Subclassification of Nahuatl dialects
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 Aztecs, who however didn't call themselves Aztecs but mēxihcah /meːˈʃiʔkaʔ/, and their language mēxihcacopa /meːʃiʔkaˈkopa/ (literally "in the manner of Mexicans"). Nowadays 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 Pochutec.
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, Morelos, whose speakers call their language mösiehuali. The Pipil 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 this 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.
Current subclassification of Nahuatl rests on research by Canger (1980, 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. Each of the groupings is defined by shared characteristic grammatical features which in turn suggest a shared history. Canger originally included dialects of La Huasteca in the Central group, while Lastra de Suárez places them in the Eastern Periphery. Below, Lastra de Suarez's classification is combined with Campbell 1997's classification of Uto-Aztecan. Campbell differs from Lastra and Canger in considering Pipil a separate branch, whereas Lastra and Canger consider it part of the Eastern branch.
- Uto-Aztecan 5000 BP*
- Aztecan 2000 BP (AKA Nahuan)
- Pochutec † Coast of Oaxaca
- General Aztec (including Nahuatl)
- Western Periphery Dialects of Durango (Mexicanero), Michoacán, Western Mexico state, extinct dialects of Colima and Nayarit
- Eastern Periphery Pipil language and dialects of Sierra de Puebla, southern Veracruz and Tabasco (Isthmus dialects)
- Huasteca Dialects of northern Puebla, Hidalgo, San Luis Potosí and northern Veracruz
- Center Dialects of central Puebla, Tlaxcala, central Veracruz, Morelos, Mexico state, central and southern Guerrero
- Aztecan 2000 BP (AKA Nahuan)
- *Estimated split date by glottochronology (BP = years Before Present).
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 that is so common in Classical Nahuatl has changed into either /t/ as it has happened in Isthmus-Mecayapan Nahuatl, Mexicanero and Pipil or into /l/ as it has happened in Nahuatl of Pómaro, Michoacán. Many dialects no longer distinguish between short and long vowels. Some have introduced completely new vowel qualities to compensate for this, 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/.
- * The glottal phoneme (called the "saltillo") only occurs after vowels. In many modern dialects it is realized as an [h], but in others, as in Classical Nahuatl, it is a glottal stop [ʔ].
Most Nahuatl dialects have stress on the penultimate syllable of a word. In Mexicanero Nahuat from Durango, many unstressed syllables have disappeared from words, and the placement of syllable stress has become phonemic in this dialect.
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 /iː eː aː oː/ to tense /i ʲe ɔ u/ and short /i e a o/ to lax /ɪ e a o/.
Most varieties have relatively simple patterns of sound alternation (allophony). In many dialects the voiced consonants are devoiced in wordfinal position and in consonant clusters: /j/ devoices to a voiceless palatal 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 only occur wordmedially and over syllable boundaries. Some morphemes have two alternating forms, one with a vowel i to prevent consonant clusters, and one without. 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 due to vowel loss. Others have contracted syllable sequences, causing accents to shift or vowels to become long.[cn 8]
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:
- /wetsi/ "he/she falls"
- /we:-wetsi/ "he/she falls several times"
- /weʔ-wetsi-ʔ/ "they fall (many people)" 
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.
- "I shall make somebody give something to you"[cn 9] (Classical Nahuatl)
The Nahuatl noun has a relatively complex structure. The only obligatory inflections are for number (singular and plural) and possession (i.e., 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, whereas all inanimate nouns were uncountable (as the words "bread" and "money" are uncountable in English). Nowadays many dialects 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, although some plural forms are irregular, or formed by reduplication. Some nouns have competing plural forms.
Plural animate noun:
Plural animate noun w. reduplication:
- "coyotes" (Classical Nahuatl)
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/.
- "my houses" (Classical Nahuatl)
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 always 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. All dialects distinguish at least the indicative and imperative moods, while some also have optative and vetative 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:
- "I want to feed them" (Classical Nahuatl)
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:
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.
- newal no-nobia
- I my-fianceé
- "My fiancée" (and not anyone else's) (Michoacán Nahual)
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):
- pero āmo tēchentenderoah lo que tlen tictoah en mexicano[cn 10]
- but not they-us-understand-PLURAL that which what we-it-say in Nahuatl
- "But they don't understand what we say in Nahuatl" (Malinche Nahuatl)
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:
- ti-ya ti-k-wika ka tel
- you-go you-it-carry with you
- "are you going to carry it with you?" (Michoacán Nahual)
And, in this example from Mexicanero Nahuat, of Durango, the original postposition/relational noun -pin "in/on" is used as a preposition. "porque", a preposition borrowed from Spanish, also occurs in the sentence.
- amo wel kalaki-yá pin kal porke ȼakwa-tiká im pwerta
- not can he-enter-PAST in house because it-closed-was the door
- "He couldn't enter the house because the door was closed" (Mexicanero Nahuat)
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.
Likewise a number of English words have been borrowed from Nahuatl through Spanish. Two of the most prominent are undoubtedly chocolate[cn 11] and tomato (from Nahuatl tomatl). Other common words such as 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 12]
Writing and literature
Pre-Columbian Aztec writing was not a true writing system, since it could not represent the full vocabulary of a spoken language in the way that the writing systems of the Old World or the Maya Script could. Therefore, 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).
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:
- whether to follow Spanish orthographic practice and write /k/ with c and qu, /kʷ/ with cu and uc, /s/ with c and z, or s, and /w/ with hu and uh, or u.
- how to write the "saltillo" phoneme (in some dialects pronounced as a glottal stop [ʔ] and in others as an [h]), which has been spelled with j, h, ’ (apostrophe), or a grave accent on the preceding vowel, but which traditionally has often been omitted in writing.
- whether and how to represent vowel length, e.g. by double vowels or by the use of macrons.
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. Lockhart and Karttunen 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:
- ye maca timiquican
- "May we not die"
- ye maca tipolihuican
- "May we not perish"
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:
- in xochitl, in cuicatl
- "The flower, the song" – meaning "poetry"
- in cuitlapilli, in atlapalli
- "the tail, the wing" – meaning "the common people"
- in toptli, in petlacalli
- "the chest, the box" – meaning "something secret"
- in yollohtli, in eztli
- "the heart, the blood" – meaning "cacao"
- in iztlactli, in tenqualactli
- "the drool, the spittle" – meaning "lies"
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).
An Altepeme de non cate itech nin tlalpan
Axcan cuan nonques tlalticpacchanéhque
Message to be passed around
To the towns that are located in the area
Now, that the dwellers of this earth,
- Vocabulario manual de las lenguas castellana y mexicana (a Spanish-Nahuatl dictionary)
- Vocabulario trilingüe (dictionary of Spanish, Latin, and Nahuatl)
- Content notes
- The Classical Nahuatl word nāhuatl (noun stem nāhua, + absolutive -tl ) is thought to mean "a good, clear sound" (Andrews 2003:578 2003:364,398) This language name has several spellings, among them náhuatl (the standard spelling in the Spanish language),("Náhuatl" (in Spanish). rae.es. Retrieved 6 July 2012.) Naoatl, Nauatl, Nahuatl, Nawatl. In a back formation from the name of the language, the ethnic group of Nahuatl speakers are called Nahua.
- See Mesoamerican languages#Language vs. Dialect for a discussion on the difference between "languages" and "dialects" in Mesoamerica.
- By the provisions of Article IV: Las lenguas indígenas...y el español son lenguas nacionales...y tienen la misma validez en su territorio, localización y contexto en que se hablen. ("The indigenous languages...and Spanish are national languages...and have the same validity in their territory, location and context in which they are spoken.")
- "General Aztec is a generally accepted term referring to the most shallow common stage, reconstructed for all present-day Nahuatl varieties; it does not include the Pochutec dialect (Campbell & Langacker 1978)." Canger 2000:385 (Note 4)
- Colonial Spanish grammars of indigenous languages were often called "artes", arte being the word for "art" in the sense of "manner".
- Such as the 1996 adoption at a world linguistics conference in Barcelona of the Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights, a declaration which "became a general reference point for the evolution and discussion of linguistic rights in Mexico" (Pellicer et al. 2006:132).
- Such as social and political agitation by the EZLN and indigenous social movements.
- Sischo 1979:312 and Canger 2000 for a brief description of these phenomena in Nahual of Michoacán and Durango respectively
- All examples given in this section and subsections are from Suárez (1983:61–63) unless otherwise noted. Glosses have been standardized.
- The words pero, entender, lo-que, and en are all from Spanish. The use of the suffix -oa on a Spanish infinitive like entender, enabling the use of other Nahuatl verbal affixes, is standard. The sequence lo que tlen combines Spanish lo que 'what' with Nahuatl tlen (also meaning 'what') to mean (what else) 'what'. en is a preposition and heads a prepositional phrase; traditionally Nahuatl had postpositions or relational nouns rather than prepositions. The stem mexihka, related to the name mexihko, 'Mexico', is of Nahuatl origin, but the suffix -ano is from Spanish, and it is probable that the whole word mexicano is a re-borrowing from Spanish back into Nahuatl.
- While there is no real doubt that the word "chocolate" comes from Nahuatl, the commonly given Nahuatl etymology /ʃokolaːtl/ "bitter water" no longer seems to be tenable. Dakin and Wichmann (2000) suggest the correct etymology to be /tʃikolaːtl/ – a word found in several modern Nahuatl dialects.
- The Mexica used the word for the Kaqchikel capital Iximche in central Guatemala, but the word was extended to the entire zone in colonial times; see Carmack 1981:143.
- INEGI 2005:3
- "Instituto Nacional de Lenguas Indígenas homepage".
- Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Aztec". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
- "General Law of Linguistic Rights of Indigenous Peoples" (in Spanish).
- Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student’s Handbook, Edinburgh
- Suárez 1983:149
- Canger 1980:13
- Canger 2002:195
- Canger 1988
- "Ley General de Derechos Lingüísticos de los Pueblos Indígenas" (PDF online reproduction). Diario Oficial de la Federación (in Spanish). Issued by the Cámara de Diputados del H. Congreso de la Unión. 2003-03-13..
- Canger 1988:42–43; Dakin 1983:202; INALI 2008:63; Suárez 1983:149.
- Canger & Dakin 1985:360, Dakin 2001:21–22
- Dakin 2001:21–22
- Canger 1980:12; Kaufman 2001:1.
- Hill 2001
- Merrill, Hard et al. 2009
- Kaufman & Justeson 2009
- Justeson et al. 1985, passim.; Kaufman 2001:3–6,12
- Kaufman & Justeson
- Kaufman 2001:6,12
- Cowgill 1992:240–242; Pasztory 1993
- Campbell 1997:161; Justeson et al. 1985; Kaufman 2001:3–6,12
- Dakin and Wichmann 2000
- Macri 2005
- Macri and Looper 2003.
- Cowgill 2003:335
- Pasztory 1993
- Dakin 1994; Kaufman 2001
- Fowler 1985:38; Kaufman 2001[page needed]
- Carmack 1981:142–143
- Canger 2011
- Jackson 2000:page#
- INAFED (Instituto Nacional para el Federalismo y el Desarrollo Municipal) (2005). "Saltillo, Coahuila". Enciclopedia de los Municipios de México (in Spanish) (online version at E-Local ed.). INAFED, Secretaría de Gobernación. Retrieved 2008-03-28.. The Tlaxcaltec community remained legally separate until the 19th century.
- Matthew, L. E. (2012). Memories of conquest: Becoming Mexicano in colonial Guatemala. Univ of North Carolina Press.
- Lockhart 1991:12; Lockhart 1992:330–331
- Canger 1980:14
- Horacio Carochi, Grammar of the Mexican language (1645), translated with annotations by James Lockhart. Stanford University Press 2001.
- Suárez 1983:165
- Suarez 1983:140-41
- Suárez 1983:5
- S.L. (Sarah) Cline, "Native Peoples of Colonial Central Mexico," in The Cambridge History of the Native Peoples of the Americas: Volume II, Mesoamerica, Part 2. Richard E.W. Adams and Murdo J. MacLeod, editors. New York, Cambridge University Press 2000, pp. 187-222
- Rolstad 2002, passim.
- INEGI 2005:63–73
- Suárez 1983:167
- Suárez 1983:168
- INEGI 2005:49
- Lastra de Suárez 1986; Rolstad 2002 passim
- Pellicer et al. 2006:132–137
- INALI [Instituto Nacional de Lenguas Indígenas] (n.d.). "Presentación de la Ley General de Derechos Lingüísticos". Difusión de INALI (in Spanish). INALI, Secretaría de Educación Pública. Archived from the original on 17 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-31.
- Mica Rosenberg – Reuters (2008-02-22). written at Mexico City. "Mexico City mayor wants to revive Aztec language" (online edition). The San Diego Union-Tribune (San Diego, CA: Copley Press). Retrieved 2008-03-25.
- Based on Lastra de Suárez 1986; Fowler 1985.
- Campbell 1985
- IRIN 2004
- INEGI 2005:35.
- INEGI 2005
- Flores Farfán 2002:229
- Launey 1992:116
- Canger 2001:385
- Hill & Hill 1986:page#
- Tuggy 1979:page#
- Canger 2001:page#
- Wolgemuth 2002:page#
- Suárez 1983:20
- Sischo 1979:passim
- Amith 1989:page#
- Flores Farfán 1999
- Pury-Toumi, S. D. (1980). Le saltillo en nahuatl. Amerindia. Revue d'Ethnolinguistique Amérindienne Paris, (5).
- Canger 2001:29
- Burnham, Jeff & David Tuggy (1979). A Spectrographic Analysis of Vowel Length in Rafael Delgado Nahuatl.
- Launey 1992:16
- Launey 1992:26
- Launey 1992:19–22
- Launey 1992:27
- Peralta Ramirez, Valentin. 1991. La reduplicación en el náhuatl de Tezcoco y sus funciones sociales. Amerindia. 16:20-36
- Launey, M. (1999). Compound nouns vs. incorporation in classical Nahuatl. STUF-Language Typology and Universals, 52(3-4), 347-364.
- Kimball, G. (1990). Noun pluralization in Eastern Huasteca Nahuatl. International journal of American linguistics, 196-216.
- Launey 1992:27-28
- Launey 1992:88-89
- Hill & Hill 1986 re Malinche Nahuatl
- Launey 1992, Chapter 13 re classical Nahuatl
- Suárez 1977:page#
- Launey 1999
- Wolgemuth 2002
- Wolgemuth 2002:35
- Suarez 1983:61
- Canger 1996
- Suárez 1983:81
- Suarez 1983:62
- Launey 1992:207-210
- Suárez 1977:61
- Baker 1996 passim.
- Pharao Hansen 2010
- Launey 1992:36–37
- Sischo 1979:314
- Andrews 2003; Launey 1994
- Launey 1994, Launey 1999:116-18
- Canger & Jensen 2007
- Hill and Hill 1986:317
- Hill and Hill 1986:page#
- Suárez, J. A. (1977). La influencia del español en la estructura gramatical del náhuatl. Anuario de Letras, 15.
- Canger 2001:116
- Hill and Hill 1986:249–340
- Dakin and Wichmann 2000:page#
- Joseph P. Pickett et al., ed. (2000). "ocelot" (online version). The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-395-82517-2. OCLC 43499541.
- Lockhart 1992:327–329
- Lockhart 1992:330–335
- Canger 2002:200–204
- Smith-Stark, T. C. (2005). Phonological description in New Spain. in Zwartjes, O., & Altman, C. (Eds.). (2005). Missionary Linguistics II/Lingüística misionera II: Orthography and Phonology. Selected papers from the Second International Conference on Missionary Linguistics, São Paulo, 10 13 March 2004 (Vol. 109). John Benjamins Publishing.
- Whorf et al. 1993:page#
- McDonough, K. S. (2014). The Learned Ones: Nahua Intellectuals in Postconquest Mexico. University of Arizona Press. p. 148
- Bierhorst, J. (Ed.). (1985). Cantares mexicanos: Songs of the Aztecs. Stanford University Press. p. xii
- Canger 2002:300
- León-Portilla 1985:12
- Sahagún 1950–82, part I:47
- Lockhart and Karttunen 1980:page#
- León-Portilla 1985:12–20
- Bright 1990 passim.
- Bright 1990:440
- Examples given are from Sahagún 1950–82, vol. VI, ff. 202V-211V
- Text as reproduced in León-Portilla 1978:78–80
- Amith, Jonathan D. (1989). "Acento en el nahuatl de Oapan". "Presentation to the Seminario de Lenguas Indígenas, Instituto de Investigaciones Filológicas-UNAM" (in Spanish). México D.F.: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
- Andrews, J. Richard (2003). Introduction to Classical Nahuatl (revised ed.). Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 0-8061-3452-6. OCLC 50090230.
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- Lastra de Suárez, Yolanda (1986). Las áreas dialectales del náhuatl moderno. Serie antropológica, no. 62. Ciudad Universitaria, México, D.F.: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas. ISBN 968-837-744-9. OCLC 19632019.(Spanish)
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- Launey, Michel (1980). Introduction à la langue et à la littérature aztèques, vol. 2: Littérature. Série ethnolinguistique amérindienne. Paris: L'Harmattan. ISBN 2-85802-155-4. (French) (Nahuatl)
- Launey, Michel (1992). Introducción a la lengua y a la literatura náhuatl (in Spanish). México D.F.: National Autonomous University of Mexico, Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas. ISBN 968-36-1944-4. OCLC 29376295.
- Launey, Michel (1994). Une grammaire omniprédicative: Essai sur la morphosyntaxe du nahuatl classique (in French). Paris: CNRS Editions. ISBN 2-271-05072-3. OCLC 30738298.
- Launey, Michel (2011). An Introduction to Classical Nahuatl. Christopher Mackay (trans.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-73229-8.
- León-Portilla, Miguel (1978). Los manifiestos en náhuatl de Emiliano Zapata. (in Spanish). Cuernavaca, Mex.: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas. OCLC 4977935.
- León-Portilla, Miguel (1985). "Nahuatl literature". In Munro S. Edmonson (Volume ed.), with Patricia A. Andrews. Supplement to the Handbook of Middle American Indians, Vol. 3: Literatures. Victoria Reifler Bricker (General ed.). Austin: University of Texas Press. pp. 7–43. ISBN 0-292-77577-6. OCLC 11785568.
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- Olmos, Fray Andrés de (1993) [1547 MS.]. Arte de la lengua mexicana: concluido en el Convento de San Andrés de Ueytlalpan, en la provincia de la Totonacapan que es en la Nueva España, el 1o. de enero de 1547, 2 vols. (Facsimile edition of original MS. ). Ascensión León-Portilla and Miguel León-Portilla (introd., transliteration, and notes). Madrid: Ediciones de Cultura Hispánica, Instituto de Cooperación Iberoamericana. ISBN 84-7232-684-5. OCLC 165270583. (Spanish)
- Pasztory, Esther (1993). "An Image Is Worth a Thousand Words: Teotihuacan and the Meanings of Style in Classic Mesoamerica". In Don Stephen Rice (ed.). Latin American horizons: a symposium at Dumbarton Oaks, 11th and 12th October 1986. Washington DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Trustees for Harvard University. pp. 113–146. ISBN 0-88402-207-2. OCLC 25872400.
- Pellicer, Dora; Bábara Cifuentes; Carmen Herrera (2006). "Legislating diversity in twenty-first century Mexico". In Margarita G. Hidalgo (ed.). Mexican Indigenous Languages at the Dawn of the Twenty-first Century. Contributions to the Sociology of Language, no. 91. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. pp. 127–168. ISBN 978-3-11-018597-3. OCLC 62090844.
- Pharao Hansen, Magnus (2010). "Polysynthesis in Hueyapan Nahuatl: The Status of Noun Phrases, Basic Word Order, and Other Concerns". Anthropological Linguistics (University of Nebraska Press) 52 (3): 274–299. doi:10.1353/anl.2010.0017.
- Rincón, Antonio del (1885) . Arte mexicana compuesta por el padre Antonio Del Rincón de la compañia de Jesus: Dirigido al illustrissimo y reverendissimo s. Don Diego Romano obispo de Tlaxcallan, y del consejo de su magestad, &c. En Mexico en casa de Pedro, Balli. 1595 (PDF facsimile, University of Chicago Library digital collections) (in Spanish) (Reprinted 1885 under the care of Dr. Antonio Peñafiel ed.). México D.F.: Oficina tip. de la Secretaría de fomento. OCLC 162761360.
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- Sahagún, Bernardino de (1950–82) [ca. 1540–85]. Florentine Codex: General History of the Things of New Spain, 13 vols. vols. I-XII. Charles E. Dibble and Arthur J.O. Anderson (eds., trans., notes and illus.) (translation of Historia General de las Cosas de la Nueva España ed.). Santa Fe, NM and Salt Lake City: School of American Research and the University of Utah Press. ISBN 0-87480-082-X. OCLC 276351.
- Sahagún, Bernardino de (1997) [ca.1558–61]. Primeros Memoriales. The Civilization of the American Indians Series vol. 200, part 2. Thelma D. Sullivan (English trans. and paleography of Nahuatl text), with H.B. Nicholson, Arthur J.O. Anderson, Charles E. Dibble, Eloise Quiñones Keber, and Wayne Ruwet (completion, revisions, and ed.). Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 978-0-8061-2909-9. OCLC 35848992.
- Sischo, William R. (1979). "Michoacán Nahual". In Ronald W. Langacker (ed.). Studies in Uto-Aztecan Grammar 2: Modern Aztec Grammatical Sketches. Summer Institute of Linguistics Publications in Linguistics, no. 56. Dallas, TX: Summer Institute of Linguistics and the University of Texas at Arlington. pp. 307–380. ISBN 0-88312-072-0. OCLC 6086368.
- Suárez, Jorge A. (1977). "La influencia del español en la estructura gramatical del náhuatl". Anuario de Letras. Revista de la Facultad de Filosofía y Letras (in Spanish) (Ciudad Universitaria, México, D.F.: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Centro de Linguística Hispánica) 15: 115–164. ISSN 0185-1373. OCLC 48341068.
- Suárez, Jorge A. (1983). The Mesoamerian Indian Languages. Cambridge Language Surveys. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-22834-4. OCLC 8034800.
- Sullivan, Thelma D. (1988). Compendium of Náhuatl Grammar. Thelma D. Sullivan and Neville Stiles (trans.), Wick R. Miller and Karen Dakin (eds.) (English translation of Compendio de la gramática náhuatl ed.). Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press. ISBN 0-87480-282-2. OCLC 17982711.
- Tuggy, David H. (1979). "Tetelcingo Náhuatl". In Ronald Langacker (ed.). Studies in Uto-Aztecan Grammar 2: Modern Aztec Grammatical Sketches. Summer Institute of Linguistics Publications in Linguistics, no. 56. Dallas, TX: Summer Institute of Linguistics and the University of Texas at Arlington. pp. 1–140. ISBN 0-88312-072-0. OCLC 6086368.
- Voegelin, Charles F.; Florence M. Voegelin; Kenneth L. Hale (1962). Typological and Comparative Grammar of Uto-Aztecan I: Phonology (Supplement to International Journal of American linguistics, vol. 28, no. 1 ). Indiana University publications in anthropology and linguistics, Memoir 17. Baltimore MD: Waverly Press. OCLC 55576894.
- Whorf, Benjamin Lee; Frances Karttunen; Lyle Campbell (1993). "Pitch Tone and the "Saltillo" in Modern and Ancient Nahuatl". International Journal of American Linguistics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press) 59 (2): 165–223. doi:10.1086/466194. OCLC 1753556.
- Wichmann, Søren (1998). "A conservative look at diffusion involving Mixe–Zoquean languages". In Roger Blench and Matthew Spriggs (eds.). Archaeology and Language, vol. II: Correlating archaeological and linguistic hypotheses. One World Archaeology series, no. 29. London and New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-11761-5. OCLC 35673530.
- Wimmer, Alexis (2006). "Dictionnaire de la langue nahuatl classique" (online version, incorporating reproductions from Dictionnaire de la langue nahuatl ou mexicaine , by Rémi Siméon). Retrieved 2008-02-04. (French) (Nahuatl)
- Wolgemuth, Carl (2002). Gramática Náhuatl (melaʼtájto̱l): de los municipios de Mecayapan y Tatahuicapan de Juárez, Veracruz (PDF online edition). Sharon Stark and Albert Bickford (online eds.) (2nd ed.). México D.F.: Instituto Lingüístico de Verano. ISBN 968-31-0315-4. OCLC 51555383.
- Dictionaries of Classical Nahuatl
- de Molina, Fray Alonso: Vocabulario en Lengua Castellana y Mexicana y Mexicana y Castellana.  Reprint: Porrúa México 1992
- Karttunen, Frances, An analytical dictionary of Náhuatl. Univ. of Oklahoma Press, Norman 1992
- Siméon, Rémi: Diccionario de la Lengua Náhuatl o Mexicana. [Paris 1885] Reprint: México 2001
- Grammars of Classical Nahuatl
- Carochi, Horacio. Grammar of the Mexican Language: With an Explanation of its Adverbs (1645) Translated by James Lockhart. Stanford University Press. 2001.
- Lockhart, James: Nahuatl as written: lessons in older written Nahuatl, with copious examples and texts, Stanford 2001
- Sullivan, Thelma: Compendium of Nahuatl Grammar, Univ. of Utah Press, 1988.
- Campbell, Joe and Frances Karttunen, Foundation course in Náhuatl grammar. Austin 1989
- Launey, Michel. Introducción a la lengua y a la literatura Náhuatl. México D.F.: UNAM. 1992 (Spanish); An Introduction to Classical Nahuatl [English translation/adaptation by Christopher Mackay], 2011, Cambridge University Press.
- Andrews, J. Richard. Introduction to Classical Nahuatl University of Oklahoma Press: 2003 (revised edition)
- Modern Dialects
- Ronald W. Langacker (ed.): Studies in Uto-Aztecan Grammar 2: Modern Aztec Grammatical Sketches, Summer Institute of Linguistics Publications in Linguistics, 56. Dallas, TX: Summer Institute of Linguistics and the University of Texas at Arlington, pp. 1–140. ISBN 0-88312-072-0. OCLC 6086368. 1979. (Contains studies of Nahuatl from Michoacan, Tetelcingo, Huasteca and North Puebla)
- Canger, Una. Mexicanero de la Sierra Madre Occidental, Archivo de Lenguas Indígenas de México, #24. México D.F.: El Colegio de México. ISBN 968-12-1041-7. OCLC 49212643. 2001 (Spanish)
- Campbell, Lyle. The Pipil Language of El Salvador, Mouton Grammar Library (No. 1). Berlin: Mouton Publishers. 1985. ISBN 0-89925-040-8. OCLC 13433705.
- Wolgemuth, Carl. Gramática Náhuatl (melaʼtájto̱l) de los municipios de Mecayapan y Tatahuicapan de Juárez, Veracruz, 2nd edition. 2002. (Spanish)
- The Nahua Newsletter: edited by the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies of the Indiana University (Chief Editor Alan Sandstrom)
- Estudios de Cultura Náhuatl: special interest-yearbook of the Instituto de Investigaciones Historicas (IIH) of the Universidad Autónoma de México (UNAM), Ed.: Miguel Leon Portilla
- A Catalogue of Pre-1840 Nahuatl Works Held by The Lilly Library from The Indiana University Bookman No. 11. November, 1973: 69–88.
|Nāhuatl edition of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia|
|Central Nahuatl test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator|
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|Look up nahuatl in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|