under the sponsorship of ILV, A.C.
The Nahuatl (or Nahua) languages form the southernmost family of the Uto-Aztecan stock. Nahuatl 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 nahua ([nawa]) which means ‘clear sound’ or ‘command’.
The areas marked in green on the map are the traditional Nahuatl homelands where the Nahuatl languages are still spoken today. They 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. Although it does not appear on this map, the southernmost language in the family is Pipil, which is spoken in El Salvador.
Nahuatl is known world-wide because of the Aztecs, also called the “Mexica” (pronounced approximately “may-she-kah”). They lived in Mexico-Tenochtitlan (what is today the center of Mexico City) in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and were the dominant civilization in Mesoamerica at the time of the Spanish conquest. Because they spoke a particular kind of Nahuatl (Classical Nahuatl), both the Nahuatl family and even some specific varieties in that family are sometimes called “Aztec” or “Mexicano”. (The Uto-Aztecan stock is also sometimes called Uto-Nahuatl.) And of course, it is from their capital city, México [mēxihko], that the country of Mexico took its name.
- Dictionaries and grammars published by ILV, A.C.
Publications by SIL International and other publishers
- "Grammar sketch of Northern Puebla Nahuatl"
- Lecciones para un curso del moderno (nawatl de Orizaba o de la Sierra de Zongolica)
Common questions about Nahuatl
- Which is the correct form: Nahua, Nahuatl, Nahuat, or Nahual?
- Why does Nahuatl have such long words?
- What languages are related to Nahuatl?
- Why do you hear so many Spanish words when modern Nahuatl is spoken?
- Why do so many place-names and language names in Mexico and Central America come from Nahuatl, even when Nahuatl is not spoken in the area?
- Why do so many place names in Mexico end with -tla, -pa, -ca, -cingo, etc.?
Linguistic structure of Nahuatl
- Classical Nahuatl nci
- Guerrero Nahuatl ngu
- Morelos Nahuatl [Ika mejikano] [auf Deutsch] nhm
- Nahuatl of Northern Oaxaca nhy
- Nahuatl of Veracruz (Isthmus Nahuatl) [Ipan tomela'tájto̱l] nhx
- Nahuatl of Zacatlán, Ahuacatlán and Tepetzintla [Ica mehcanoh] [Deutsch Version] nhi
- Orizaba Nawatl (Zongolica Nahuatl) nlv
- Tetelcingo Nahuatl nhg
- See publications in additional varieties of languages in this family, looking under Nahuatl and Nawatl.
For more information
- Confusion about the name “Huasteco”
- Explanation of the confusion of names of Mexican indigenous languages
- Ethnologue listing