Appendix:Classical Nahuatl pronunciation

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Classical Nahuatl


The following tables show IPA and X-SAMPA representations of Classical Nahuatl pronunciation. Examples are shown using modern standardized spelling, situations arising from varying spellings are explained in the footnotes.

IPA SAMPA Examples
a a acēlli, cuauhtlah, ilama
[1] a: ātl, mazātl, tlālli
e e tletl, tepētl, chāneh
[1] e: ēlōtl, huēhueh, tepētl
i i icpalli, chichi, mēxihcatl
[1] i: īxeh, āxīxtli, chīlli
o[2] o octli, conētl, citlālloh, tlapanco
[1][2] o: āxōlōtl, ichpōchtli, teōtl
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Long vowels were rarely marked in historical manuscripts. Vowel length is indicated with a macron in modern standardized spelling, as long vowels and short vowels are not allophones of each other, and therefore differentiated.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Both /o/ and /oː/ were sometimes represented by u in manuscripts (e.g. teutl for teōtl, etc.).
IPA SAMPA Examples
j j yāōtl, teōyōtl, huey
k k calli, ctli, iztāc, quetzalli
[1] k_w cuāuhtli, uctli
l[2] l chīlātl, ocuilin, tecolōtl
[2][3] l: nāhuallōtl, nohpalli, llah
ɬ[4] K āltepētl, ilhuicaātl, pill
m m michtetl, ilamatōn
n n nanacatl, tzontli, ocuilin
p p pahcalli, pāpalōtl
s[5] s citlālin, ocēlōtl, mazātl, eztli
[3][5] s: chōquizzoh, ehezzoh, mahuizzōtl
ʃ S xōchitl, āmoxtli, xihcatl
ʃː[3] S: mixxonēhuatl, tlaīxxoh
t t tōtoltetl, ilamatqueh, ahhuachchoh
[6] tK tlahtōlli, cochiztli, āltepētl
ts[6] ts tzontli, tztli
[6] tS chāntli, ichchtli
w[7] w huēhueh, huāuhtli, cuahuitl
ʔ[8] ? cihuah, cihtli, ehēcatl
  1. ^ Written cu in all positions or cuh postvocalically in manuscripts (e.g. tecutli or tecuhtli for tēuctli). Inversion to uc after vowels is conventional in modern spelling. The qu in manuscript spellings such as quauhtli (cuāuhtli in modern spelling) also corresponds to this sound.
  2. 2.0 2.1 /l/ and /lː/ are found only found in the syllable onset.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Sometimes transcribed /ll/, /ss/ and /ʃʃ/, with one consonant belonging to the first syllable's coda and the other to the next syllable's onset. However, these encounters are more accurately represented by /lː/, /sː/ and /ʃː/, as the encounter between two akin sibilants or approximants in Classical Nahuatl leads to a lengthened consonantal sound rather than a pair of identical sounds.
  4. ^ [ɬ] is an allophone of /l/ at the end of the syllable coda.
  5. 5.0 5.1 In manuscripts, a cedilla was often used to represent the sound /s/, especially before a and o (e.g. maçatl for mazātl, çolin for zōlin, etc.).
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 May also be written with a tie bar, thus: /t͡ɬ/, /t͡s/, /t͡ʃ/.
  7. ^ Often represented by a single u or v in manuscripts (e.g. naualli for nāhualli, or macevalli for mācēhualli). Written hu prevocallicaly and uh postvocallically in modern spelling.
  8. ^ Glottal stops were very rarely indicated in manuscripts. In modern spelling a postvocalic h represents a glottal stop.

Other symbols

IPA SAMPA Indicates
ˈ (ˈa)[1][2] " ("a) primary stress
ˌ (ˌa) % (%a) secondary stress, sometimes tertiary stress
a.a a.a division between syllables
  1. ^ Primary stress in Classical Nahuatl almost always falls on the penult. The only exceptions are vocative forms, which always stress the final syllable (when male speakers use the vocative they add the suffix to the absolutive ending, replacing the final i if present, while female speakers simply stress the last syllable).
  2. ^ The stressed syllable also receives a raised pitch accent, which can be shown in IPA as an acute accent (´) on the vowel of the stressed syllable.

See also