Huasteca Nahuatl

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Huasteca Nahuatl
Native to Mexico
Region La Huasteca (San Luis Potosí, Hidalgo, Puebla, Veracruz)
Native speakers
(1.0 million cited 1991–2000)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 Variously:
nhe – Eastern (Hidalgo)
nch – Central
nhw – Western (Tamazunchale)
Glottolog huas1257[2]

Huasteca Nahuatl is a Nahuan language spoken by over a million people in the region of La Huasteca in Mexico, centered in the states of Hidalgo (Eastern) and San Luis Potosí (Western), but also spoken in the northern part of Veracruz and the extreme north of Puebla.[3] Ethnologue divides Huasteca Nahuatl into three languages, Eastern, Central, and Western, as they judge that separate literature is required, but notes that there is 85% mutual intelligibility between Eastern and Western. Half of Eastern speakers know no Spanish.[4]

XEANT-AM radio broadcasts in Huasteca Nahuatl.


Huasteca Nahuatl is spoken in the following municipalities in the states of Hidalgo, Veracruz, and San Luis Potosí (Rodríguez & Valderrama 2005:168).

Hidalgo (121,818 speakers)
  • Huejutla Reyes (56,377 speakers)
  • Huautla (18,444 speakers)
  • Yahualica (14,584 speakers)
  • Xochiatipan (12,990 speakers)
  • Atlapexco (12,445 speakers)
  • Jaltocan (6,978 speakers)
Veracruz (98,162 speakers)
  • Chicontepec (41,678 speakers)
  • Ixhuatlán de Madero (21,682 speakers)
  • Benito Juárez (11,793 speakers)
  • Ilamantlan (9,689 speakers)
  • Ixcatepec (6,949 speakers)
  • Zontecomatlán (6,371 speakers)
San Luis Potosí (108,471 speakers)
  • Tamazunchale (35,773 speakers)
  • Axtla de Terrazas (17,401 speakers)
  • Xilitla (16,646 speakers)
  • Matlapa (16,286 speakers)
  • Coxcatlan (12,300 speakers)
  • Chalchicuautla (10,065 speakers)


The following description is that of Eastern Huasteca.


Front Back
High i iˑ
Mid-high e eˑ
Mid-low o oˑ
Low a aˑ


Classical Nahuatl Consonants
Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
central lateral plain labialized
Nasal m n
Plosive p t k ʔ
Affricate ts
Continuant s ʃ h
Semivowel j w
Liquid l, r


Huasteca Nahuatl currently has several proposed orthographies, most prominent among them those of the Instituto de Docencia e Investigación Etnológica de Zacatecas (IDIEZ),[5] Mexican government publications, and the Summer Institute of Linguistics.[6]

  • Their orthography is based on the evolution of Classical Nahuatl. It is somewhat of a deep orthography based on morphology since it aims to provide a unified system across regions.
  • uses ⟨ca⟩, ⟨que⟩, ⟨qui⟩, ⟨co⟩ for /k/
  • takes morphology into account
  • uses ⟨za⟩, ⟨ce⟩, ⟨ci⟩, ⟨zo⟩ for /s/
  • uses ⟨h⟩ for /h/
Mexican government publications
  • Is influenced by modern Spanish conventions and is a very surface-based orthography. It aims to provide easy literacy across regions but with a different writing system in each one.
  • uses ⟨k⟩ for /k/
  • does not take morphology into account
  • uses ⟨s⟩ for /s/
  • uses ⟨j⟩ for /h/
  • Somewhat based on modern Spanish conventions, mostly surface-based orthography as well but does not completely dispose of Classical Nahuatl conventions.
  • uses ⟨ca⟩, ⟨que⟩, ⟨qui⟩, ⟨co⟩ for /k/
  • does not take morphology into account
  • uses ⟨s⟩ for /s/
  • uses ⟨j⟩ for /h/

Sample text: 'a book about my location.'

  • IDIEZ: ce tlahcuilolli tlen campa niitztoc.
  • Government: se tlajkuiloli tlej kampa niitstok
  • SIL: se tlajcuiloli tlej campa niitztoc


  1. ^ Eastern (Hidalgo) at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Central at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
    Western (Tamazunchale) at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Huasteca Nahuatl". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ Kimball: p. 196.
  4. ^ Eastern Huasteca Nahuatl at Ethnologue (16th ed., 2009)
  5. ^ IDIEZ:[1].
  6. ^ Old Testament in Eastern Huasteca Nahuatl.


  • Kimball, Geoffrey (1990). "Noun Pluralization in Eastern Huasteca Nahuatl". International Journal of American Linguistics. 56 (2): 196–216. doi:10.1086/466150. 
  • Rodríguez López, María Teresa, and Pablo Valderrama Rouy. 2005. "The Gulf Coast Nahua." In Sandstrom, Alan R., and Enrique Hugo García Valencia. 2005. Native peoples of the Gulf Coast of Mexico. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
  • Beller, Richard; Patricia Beller (1979). "Huasteca Nahuatl". In Ronald 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. 199–306. ISBN 0-88312-072-0. OCLC 6086368. 
  • Stiles, Neville Náhuatl in the Huasteca Hidalguense: A Case Study in the Sociology of Language (1983) PhD Thesis, University of St. Andrews, Scotland.