Orizaba Nahuatl

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Orizaba Nahuatl
Āwilisāpan Nāwatl
Native toMexico
Native speakers
(120,000 cited 1991)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3nlv

Orizaba Nahuatl is a native American language spoken in the southeastern Mexican state of Veracruz mostly in the area to the south of the city of Orizaba.[3] It is also known as Orizaba Aztec and Náhuatl de la Sierra de Zongolica. It has 79 percent intelligibility with Morelos Nahuatl. There is a dialect called Ixhuatlancillo Nahuatl which is spoken in a town to the north of Orizaba. There are several primary schools and one secondary school which use this language along with Spanish. [4]



Short Front Back
High i
Mid-high o
Mid-low e
Low a
Long Front Back
High ī
Mid-high ē ō
Low ā


Consonants[5] Labial Apical Postalveolar Velar Glottal
Unrounded Rounded
Plosive p /p/ t /t/ k /k/ kw /kʷ/ h
Affricate ts /ts/ ch /tʃ/
Lateral affricate tl /tɬ/
Fricative s /s/ x g /ɣ/
Liquid l
Nasal m/m/ n /n ~ ŋ/
Semivowel w /w ~ β ~ ɸ/ y /j/


The orthography of Orizaba Nahuatl (nlv) is similar to that of Classical Nahuatl (nah), though it features the consonants of this modern variety internationally rather than on the basis of Castilian (Spanish) orthography:

  • "I will enter his/her house."
"Nicalaquīz īcal." [nah]
"Nikalakīs īkal." [nlv]

This corresponds to a more phonetic translation while still making use of macrons to mark long vowels. In this orthography the name of the language is Nawatl (as capitalized for English speakers), rather than Nahuatl. Most grammar and vocabulary changes are minor, most of them corresponding to neologisms and loan words from Spanish. Example:

  • "Now/At this moment/Today."
"Āxcān." [nah]
"Axan." [nlv]

(In this case both long vowels and intermediate consonant are lost.)

Some loanwords from Spanish:

"Kahwen" (from café, coffee; also used in Classical Nahuatl as "cafetzin").
"Kawayoh" (from caballo, horse; also used in Classical Nahuatl as "cahuayoh").
"Kochih" (from coche, car).
"Refreskoh" (from refresco, soft drink or soda).


  1. ^ Orizaba Nahuatl at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Orizaba Nahuatl". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ [1], Orizaba Nawatl, SIL-México, retrieved 19 Nov, 2007
  4. ^ Ethnologue, Orizaba Nahuatl, retrieved May 25, 2007
  5. ^ Theodore R. Goller, Patricia L. Goller and Viola G. Waterhouse (April 1974). "The Phonemes of Orizaba Nahuatl". International Journal of American Linguistics. 40 (2): 126–131. doi:10.1086/465295. JSTOR 1264347.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)

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