The Nahuatl language of Mecayapan and Tatahuicapan, Veracruz is 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.
The two municipalities had a combined population of about 30,000 according to the census taken in 2000.
The speakers of this language sometimes refer to it as Mejicano 'Mexican', but more often they call it mela'tájto̱l, which comes historically from melac 'straight, right, true' plus tájto̱l 'word'. The related verb mela'tajtohua (literally 'talk true') means 'talk Nahuatl'.
This variant of Nahuatl uses t where other variants have tl in word initial and medial positions. Word final t and k become glottal stops. So the word meaning 'man', which is tla̱catl in most Nahuatl, is ta̱ga' in this variant.
Vowel length, which is written with an underline, is more noticeable and functional than in most other variants. For instance 'salt' is ista' and 'white' is ista̱'; 's/he/it passed' is panoj and 's/he/it will pass' is pano̱j.
This variant is also unusual in having voicedstops, such as the b in babasoti', 'disheveled', the d in dadapoti' 'rough (surface)' or the g in go̱xi, '(spinning) top'. [You can clearly hear the final glottal stop on babasoti' when it is pronounced before the suffix -san 'only', in the word babasoti'san 'only disheveled'. The lack of a final glottal stop is equally clear when -san is added to go̱xi to form the word go̱xisan 'only a top'.]
Bandstand and Municipal offices, Mecayapan
Church and central park, Tatahuicapan
(San Martín volcano in background)
This seems to be the only variant of Nahuatl which differentiates first person plural inclusive ['you and I (and perhaps others)'] from exclusive ['I and others (but not you)']. Matia̱ca̱n means 'let us inclusive go', mania̱ca̱n means 'let us exclusive go'. The object prefixes on the verb do not mark plurality. Plurality in such cases is only marked by a suffix, and the suffix is ambiguous as to whether it refers to the subject or the object. Thus quitamacaquej, with the plural past tense suffix -quej, could mean 's/he/it fed them' or 'they fed them' or 'they fed him/her/it'. Nimitztamacaquej can mean 'I fed you pl.', 'we fed you pl.', or 'we fed you sg.'.
--Christopher L. Hurst
The recorded words were pronounced by Esteban Pérez Ramírez