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Nahuatl Family

Nahuatl (Aztec, Mexicano)
Aztec calendar

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’.


Map of Mexico Map: where the Nahuatl languages are spoken Map: where the Nahuatl languages are spoken Map: where the Nahuatl languages are spoken Map: where the Nahuatl languages are spoken

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 other individual variants 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 modern country of Mexico took its name.

Common questions about Nahuatl

...and more.

Linguistic structure of Nahuatl

Specific varieties of languages in the Nahuatl Family
Name
(with links to more details on some)
Materials
Available
Ethnologue entries
Central Nahuatl book nhn
Central Huasteca Nahuatl book nch
Central Puebla Nahuatl book ncx
Classical Nahuatl   nci
Coatepec Nahuatl book naz
Durango Nahuatl book nln
Eastern Huasteca Nahuatl book nhe
Guerrero Nahuatl book ngu
Highland Puebla Nahuatl book azz
Huaxcaleca Nahuatl book nhq
Cosoleacaque Nahuatl (Isthmus Nahuatl) book nhk
Nahuatl of Mecayapan and Tatahuicapan, Veracruz (Isthmus Nahuatl) book nhx
Pajapan Nahuatl (Isthmus Nahuatl) book nhp
Michoacán Nahuatl book ncl
Morelos Nahuatl
[auf Deutsch] [Ika mejikano]
book nhm
Nahuatl of Northern Oaxaca book nhy
Northern Puebla Nahuatl book ncj
Ometepec Nahuatl book nht
Orizaba Nawatl (Zongolica Nahuatl) book nlv
Santa María la Alta Nahuatl book nhz
Sierra Negra Nahuatl book nsu
Southeastern Puebla Nahuatl book npl
Tabasco Nahuatl book nhc
Temascaltepec Nahuatl book nhv
Mösiehuali (Tetelcingo Nahuatl) book nhg
Tlamacazapa Nahuatl book nuz
Western Huasteca Nahuatl book nhw
Nahuatl of Zacatlán, Ahuacatlán and Tepetzintla
[auf Deutsch] [ica mehcanoh]
book nhi
Publications by the Summer Institute of Linguistics and its members
Linguistics
Literacy and literature
Various fields
For more information:



The Aztec calendar that appears at the top of this page is in the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.