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Nahuatl language

Nahuatl is a language spoken by many of the native people, including the Aztecs, in what is now Mexico. It is still the most important Indian language in the country. Its 1.5 million speakers live mainly in the states of Puebla, Veracruz, Hidalgo, and Guerrero. Almost all but the most elderly speakers of Nahuatl are bilingual, having a working knowledge of the Spanish language. In general, modern Nahuatl shows strong influences from Spanish.

Nahuatl belongs to the Uto-Aztecan subgroup of North American Indian languages, which also includes the languages spoken by the Comanche, Pima, Shoshone, Toltecs and other tribes of western North America. It is an agglutinative, flexive language. In nahuatl there is no fixed diference between phrases or words, there are no infinitives, and no proper pronoums. There is no word for "I", insted one refers to himself as "my skin".

Nahuatl has been described as a language that is pure etimology. A nahuatl word, always consist on a prefix, then several root concepts, and a sufix. One can put as many root concepts, each one a syllabe, as necesary, so some nahuatl words are very long. It means also, that words can be created on the fly.

Nahuatl words adopted into English include "avocado", "axolotl", "chocolate", "coyote", "ocelot", "peyote", and "tomato".

At the time of the Spanish conquest, Aztec writing used mostly pictographs supplemented with a few ideograms. This was adequate for keeping such records as genealogies, astronomical information, and tribute lists, but could not represent a full vocabulary of spoken language in the way that the writing systems of the old world or of the Maya civilization do. The Spanish introduced the Roman script and recorded a large body of Aztec prose and poetry. Thus, Nahuatl written in Roman script is pronounced as if it were Spanish with a few exceptions.

Before of the conqueste, existed a diferences between the nahuatl of the people, and the nahuatl of the upper classes. the upper classes had created an esoteric language, for example, the word Aztlan, means the place of the storks. But Stork means white, and white, means the origin, so in the language of the upper classes, Aztlan means, the place of the origin. This has complicated the tlanslation of the surviving aztec writings.

Since the time of the Spanish conquest the spelling of Nahuatl has varied considerably.

Recently, US linguists working with modern Nahuatl have sometimes preferred spellings that look more like English. Thus: In some unusual cases, non-ASCII symbols are used for TL, CH, CU/UC, and TZ to stress that these are single consonants, not compounds.

See also Nahuatl dictionary

Wikipedia in Nahuatl

External links