N Á H U A T L
Nahuatl, a language that we live on a daily basis...

J u a n   S o l i s
Excerpted from El Universal
email: juan.solis@eluniversal.com.mx

Discrimination: indigenous Mexicans have no art, they make crafts; Have no spirituality, but have superstitions; They have no regulations, but are governed by customs; Have no tongues, speak dialects such as Nahuatl, which nevertheless stands in the middle twenty-first century as a living language with over 2 and a half million speakers and thousands of words that are embedded in the Spanish language.

"The Nahuatl is a living language is the most widely spoken of native peoples, followed by the Mayan Yucatán." There is a vitality of the language that corresponds to the vitality of other aspects of the culture: cuisine, religious, recreational, dance and musical, which flows throughout our everyday lives.

Beyond Mexico, the presence of Nahuatl and Mixtec in the United States, from migration, notes that the territory does not become the benchmark for the basic flowering of the cultures, but the identity is a feeling of being part of a community.

 

 

 

 

The Nahuatl (or Nahua) languages has over a million and a half speakers, more than any other family of indigenous languages in Mexico today. The name 'Nahuatl' (pronounced in two syllables, ná-watl) comes from the root word 'nahua' which means a 'clear sound' or 'command'.

   
a
atl
ch
chikolatl
e
yetl
i
ichkatl
j
ajakatl
k
kajli
ku
kuajli
l
lamajtsin
m
metlatl
n
nakatl
o
ompa
p
petlatl
s
sakatl
t
tetl
tl
tlajli
ts
tsikatl
u
itekiu
x
xochitl
y
yeloti
   

N A H U A T L   A L P H A B E T
Consisting of 4 vowels and 15 consonants, the vowels are a, e, i, o, with a majority of the letters pronounced the same as in Spanish. The o is pronounced more closed and sometimes sounds like u in Spanish. The letter x is pronounced like sh in the English language.

The areas of traditional Nahuatl regions where the Nahuatl languages are still spoken today include; parts of the Federal District (Mexico City) and of the states of Durango, México, Guerrero, Michoacán, Morelos, Oaxaca, Puebla, San Luis Potosí, Tabasco, Tlaxcala, and Veracruz.

There are many variations of the Nahuatl language from the different regions in southeastern Mexico where the language is spoken today.

Classical Nahuatl (náhuatl clasico)
The Nahuatl language spoken by the Mexica (Aztecs) of Mexico-Tenochtitlan (the heart of modern Mexico City today) in the days of the Aztec Empire.

Guerrero Nahuatl (náhuatl de Guerrero)
S poken in a large mountainous area in the state of Guerrero, from Chilpancingo in the west to Tlapa in the east, and from near Iguala south into the Sierra Madre Occidental. A long 'l' for other variants is pronounced 'j'l (hl) so the word for 'house', which is 'calli' elsewhere in Nahuatl, is pronounced 'cajli' or 'káhli' in Guerrero.

Morelos Nahuatl (náhuatl de Morelos)
Like other Nahuatl variants is commonly called mexicano, is spoken in various towns and communities scattered throughout the state of Morelos. The most important towns are Cuentepec, Hueyapan, Santa Catarina, and Xoxocotla. Even though Tetelcingo is also located in the state of Morelos, its speech is quite different from that of the other Morelos towns.

Mösiehuali is a dialect of Nahuatl (also called Mexicano, or Aztec)
Which is spoken in the town of Tetelcingo, Morelos, and its two colonias (independent neighborhoods), Colonia Cuauhtémoc and Colonia Lázaro Cárdenas. Tetelcingo is located six kilometers north of the city of Cuautla, Morelos.

Nahuatl language of Mecayapan, Tatahuicapan in Veracruz
One of the more divergent variants of Nahuatl. Its nearest neighbor, both geographically and linguistically, is the Pajapan variant. They are located in the northern part of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, and for this reason they have together been known as Isthmus Nahuatl.

Nahuatl language of Northern Oaxaca (Náhuatl del norte de Oaxaca)
Spoken in a group of towns in the Sierra Mazateca of the state of Oaxaca. The principal towns of the area are Santa María Teopoxco, Santiago Texcalcingo, Vigastepec, San Bernardino, and Capultitlán. There are an estimated 12,000 to 13,000 speakers of the language.

Orizaba Nawatl (Nawatl de Orizaba)
The Nahuatl language which is spoken in a large mountainous area south of the city of Orizaba, Veracruz. This region is known as the Sierra de Zongolica, and Zongolica is the largest town centrally located in the dialect area. For this reason this language is also known by such names as Zongolica Nahuatl (or Aztec), or Nahuatl of the Sierra de Zongolica. The symbol 'w' was chosen instead of the traditional 'hu', giving the name of the language as Nawatl instead of Nahuatl.

Nahuatl language of the municipalities of Zacatlán, Ahuacatlán and Tepetzintla
Spoken in many of the communities of those municipalities, in the northern part of the state of Puebla, Mexico. Among those communities are San Miguel Tenango, Xonotla, Tenantitla, Zoquitla, Yehuala, Xochitlaxco, Ahuacatlán, Tepetzintla, Cuacuila, Ixquihuacan, Tetelancingo, Omitlán and Cuacuilco. This variant of Nahuatl is a neighbor to the variants spoken in the regions of Zacapoaxtla to the east and Huauchinango to the northwest. The speakers call their language mehcanohtlahtol.


 

C u e t l a x o c h i t l
A flower that is native to Tenochtitlan. The Cuetlaxochitl can grow as high as 10 feet tall and its beautiful red flowers bloom in the winter time in Mexico. The word Cuetlaxochitl means, "mortal flower that perishes and withers like all that is pure". The Cuetlaxochitl was never touched, but left alone as 'an exotic gift from nature'. It was highly prized by Montezuma and Netzahualcoyotl, but could not be grown in their capital, now Mexico City, because of the high altitude. Nevertheless, beautiful botanical gardens existed throughout the Aztec empire in pre-Hispanic times where plants were cultivated for their ornament and medicine. From October to May, the cuetlaxochitl was admired and observed. By careful selection, colors ranging from white to almost black, had been obtained and still exist, even though the scarlet version remains the most abundant today.

Most Mexicans know the Cuetlaxochitl as Noche Buena since it blooms around Christmas time.

The Aztecs used the Cuetlaxochitl for curing fevers, made a reddish purple dye out of the bracts for dyeing clothes and a medicine for fever from the plant's latex, it was also a common female name in Nahautl.

In the United States, the flower is called by the name 'poinsetta', and has a different history, though still of Mexican origin. It all began when Joel Robert Poinsett* was appointed ambassador to Mexico. On Christmas day 1825, Ambassador Poinsett visited a local Taxco church, where the Franciscans had adorned the nativity scene with exotic red flowers that gave it a very elegant and beautiful appearance. With interests in gardening and botany, he had some of the plants sent to his home in South Carolina. The botanical name 'Euphorbia Pulcherrima' had been given by a German taxonomist in 1833. The common name, poinsettia however has remained the accepted name in English-speaking countries.

* Mr. Poinsett later founded the institution which is known today
  as the Smithsonian Institution.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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basic nahuatl language