Proto-Nahuan language

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Proto-Nahuan is the hypothetical daughter language of the Proto-Uto-Aztecan language which is the common ancestor from which the modern Nahuan languages have developed. Some phonological changes shared by all Nahuan languages are:

  • Proto-Uto-Aztecan *t becomes Proto-Nahuan lateral affricate *t͡ɬ before Proto-Uto-Aztecan *a[1] ( PUA *ta:ka "man" becomes PN *tla:ka-tla "man" )
  • Proto-Uto-Aztecan initial *p is lost in Proto-Nahuan.[2] (PUA *pahi "water" becomes PN *a:-tla "water")
  • Proto-Uto-Aztecan *u merges with *i into Proto-Nahuan *i[3] (PUA *muki "to die" becomes PN *miki "to die)
  • Proto-Uto-Aztecan sibilants *ts and *s split into *ts, *ch and *s, respectively.[4]
  • Proto-Uto-Aztecan fifth vowel reconstructed as or merged with *e into Proto-Nahuan *e[5] (PUA *nɨmi "to walk" becomes PN *nemi "to live, to walk")
  • a large number of metatheses in which Proto-Uto-Aztecan roots of the shape *CVCV have become *VCCV.[6] (PUA *pu:li "to tie" becomes PN *ilpi "to tie" )


The hypothetical Proto-Nahuan is hypothetically an agglutinative language, where words use suffix complexes for a variety of purposes with several morphemes strung together.


  1. ^ Dakin (1982), pp. 25, 67-8
  2. ^ Voegelin, Voegelin & Hale (1962)
  3. ^ Langacker (1977), p. 23
  4. ^ Dakin (1982), p. 51-62
  5. ^ Langacker (1977), p. 23
  6. ^ Dakin (1982), p. 62-3