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  5. Nahuatl Basics part 1 (Man, T…

Nahuatl Basics part 1 (Man, The, I, Not, Am, You, Boy)

[deactivated user]

    Ximopanolti! Welcome!

    So I am not a native speaker of nahuatl, but I love the language so much and its culture, I thought that I would share it for those willing to learn a little. I will try to keep these lessons in "Duolingo style", but I may sometimes resort to my own order. The actual word order is from the Esperanto tree because thats the one I've progressed the most in. So here it goes.

    Tlacatl: Man

    In: The

    Nehuatl: I

    Ahmo: No or not

    Am or to be: No such thing in Nahautl

    Piltontli: Boy

    Telpocatl: Boy or young man

    Please not that there are two ways to say boy. Piltontli and Telpocatl, although Telpocatl is usually for Teens, but depends on the speaker.

    Nehuatl and Tehuatl are not the only way to say I and You, but we will get to that later to avoid any confusion.

    Well that was actually really short, but then again so is lesson one. So I'll include bonus vocabulary words:

    Ahcihualoyan: A bus or train stop/station

    Momachtiani: A student

    Neliliztli: Truth

    I will post the appropriate pronounciation guide later!

    EDIT: One more word to avoid confusion

    Pilli: Kid, Child, son, daugther.

    September 21, 2015



    What dialect of Nahuatl is this?

    [deactivated user]

      Oh...almost forgot to include that. Sorry. To answer your question it is one that is spoken primarly in Mexico city, Estado de Mexico(DF), and Milpa Alta. Altough I throw I a little bit of classic occasionaly to help understanding the grammar of most Nahuatl languages, including this one. The Dialect I teach here is the one mostly related to Classic anyway, but still has it's diffirences. Good Question!


      Cool, I've studied Classical Nahuatl and Modern Huastecan Nahuatl, I always love to see different dialects and verities.

      [deactivated user]

        Nice, Huasteca? I never found a good place for learning that. If you have already studied those two, you most likely will understand or grasp things more easy in my lessons if you ever look over them :) Where did you study both if you don't mind me asking?


        I studied them at a Yale Summer program.


        Is that program still active? It sounds interesting


        Does Nahuatl really have a definite article ("the")?
        How does it compare to the English word "the"?
        Does Nahuatl have an indefinite article (English word "a/an")?

        What do you use instead of "to be" in Nahuatl?

        [deactivated user]

          "In" is pretty much the only article in Nahuatl, but people have been asking this question a lot lately. Like I said in another post I will go over the use of "In" later.

          When Nahuatl speakers want to "A/an" they usually just use the word for one, which is "Ce".

          We will also go over how to componsate for the lack of "To be" in the next post.

          Very good questions though!

          [deactivated user]

            James Lockhart... He is an expert in the Nahuatl language, mostly in other dialects and classical. Yes thats a better way to explain it, but most speakers just use it as "the" and thats how it is understood. Like I have said before, that will be covered more in depth later.


            Are all "tl" pronounced as /t͡ɬ/ in IPA?

            [deactivated user]

              I don't know a whole lot of IPA, but i will still answer your question. Yes, so in that case the language itself would be pronounced. [ˈnaː.wat͡ɬ]. The "tl" is not pronounced like in the english word "Atlantic". I will explain how to pronounce it and include an audio file in the next lesson tommorow (Probably) Very good question!


              Thank you very much! I really appreciate the work you're doing for us here on Duo for this language :D

              [deactivated user]

                Thank you! I have a passion for the Aztec way of life, and the language is one of the most beautiful I have learned. There are a few other places online, but to get more awarness of it, I decided to talk about it on Duolingo, where alot of language learners like to go now.


                Is it pronounced like the greenlandic /rlll/ welsh ll? (kind of a hl sound in english)


                It's like trying to pronounce a letter L while holding your tongue where you would if you were to pronounce the English T sound. That's the best way I can describe it. It does have a similarity to the Welsh ll. However based on this video of native speakers it seems that this particular sound only occurs when tl is placed at the end of a word in other parts of the word it is not the letter tl, but the letters t and l and they make a sound similar to the "tl" in the english word Atlantic, however this could just be something specific to one dialect (there are many): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTBABGLJzIA

                [deactivated user]

                  Close, it would actually be this for "I am a man".

                  Nehuatl nitlacatl




                  Thanks for this. I am interested in Nahuatl and its culture too. This probably started when I learned about the Aztecs in school when I was 12. I think the language sounds cool.

                  [deactivated user]

                    No problem. I have loved the Aztecs since around the same age, but after I learned it in school. It is very cool! I will post the next lessons tmrw


                    This is great! I had just left a comment on another form saying that this language would be the strongest candidate for an Aborignal language on Duolingo and then I scroll down and here it is! I am looking forward to picking some up c:

                    [deactivated user]

                      Yeah, Nahuatl or Mayan. Im a student in both. Glad that you want to pick up a little of the Aztec Empire's language that still lives on today!


                      When I picked it up in Puebla, Mexico...I only remembered Thank you...which I think is Ta-so-ka-ma-tik. Correct me if I'm wrong. I lost all my other vocabulary

                      [deactivated user]

                        Most of the dialects have a similar word for thank you, for this one it is "Tlazohcamati"


                        I have a question. I looked at the words and noticed tlacatl and nehuatl are really much like the name for the language. What does Nahuatl mean in its own language (translated to English of course)?

                        [deactivated user]

                          Very good question

                          In nahuatl, the language itself is called Nahuatlahtolli

                          It comes from the word Nahua which means "to sound clear or pleasant " and **Atl"" which means "water"


                          And of course Tlahtolli means "language", and we will get to dropping endings of words later.

                          So litteraly, you could say it means "The language clear as water" or just "Clear/pleasant language". They believed it was the most clear and pleasant form of communication.

                          However, modern day nahuatl experts have another theory that it comes from the word Nahui which means "Four" and Atl which you already know means "water".

                          In this case it would mean literally mean "Four waters" but water is also often understood as "path" so it could be understood as "Four paths". This is because the ancient Aztecs believed the world was split into four primary directions and each was ruled by a god (usually just a god with a color infant of their name).

                          Hope this helps, but I believe in the first explanation and so do most Nahuatl speakers. In order to understand much of the language, you have to understand the religious beliefs.

                          [deactivated user]

                            And sorry for the late response, I guess the timezones we have are different.

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