Nahuatl is an Uto-Aztecan language spoken by about 1.5 million people in Mexico. The majority of speakers live in central Mexico, particularly in Puebla, Veracruz, Hildago, San Luis Potosi, Guerrero, Mexico (state), El Distrito Federal, Tlaxcala, Morelos and Oaxaca, and also in El Salvador. There are smaller numbers of Nahuatl speakers throughout the rest of Mexico, and in parts of the USA.
There are numerous dialects of Nahuatl, some of which are mutually unintelligible. Most Nahuatl speakers also speak Spanish, except for some of the elderly.
Classical Nahuatl was the language of the Aztec empire and was used as a lingua franca in much of Mesoamerica from the 7th century AD until the Spanish conquest in the 16th century. The modern dialects of Nahuatl spoken in the Valley of Mexico are closest to Classical Nahuatl.
Nahuatl was originally written with a pictographic script. This was not a full writing system, but instead served as a mnemonic to remind readers of texts they had learnt orally. The script appeared in inscriptions carved in stone and in picture books, many of which the Spanish destroyed.
The Spanish introduced the Latin alphabet to write Nahuatl, and a large amount of prose and poetry was subsequently written. Ever since there has been considerable debate about how to spell Nahuatl.
Download an alphabet chart for Nahuatl - also includes phrases and numbers (Excel)
Nochi tlakamej uan siuamej kipiaj manoj kuali tlakatisej, nochi san se totlatechpouiltilis uan titlatepanitalojkej, yeka moneki kuali ma timouikakaj, ma timoiknelikaj, ma timotlasojtlakaj uan ma timotlepanitakaj.
Nochi tlacameh ihuan cihuameh quipiah manoh cualli tlacaticeh, nochi zan ze totlatechpohuiltiliz ihuan titlatepanitalohqueh, yeca monequi cualli ma timohuicacah, ma timoicnelicah, ma timotlazohtlacah ihuan ma timotlepanitacah.
This text was provided by Pierre Sánchez and is written in the "normal way" used by Nahuatl-speaking communities.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They
are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another
in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Information about Nahuatl
A New System for Writing Nahuatl
Nahuatl Tlahtolkalli (Nahuatl Academy of Language)
Enigméxico - una librería virtual en donde ofrezco toda clase de documentos históricos en Náhuatl y para aprender el Náhuatl así como también la historia antigua de México y del Perú: http://www.enigmexico.com/
Photos of and information about the Aztec, Maya and Inca peoples
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