In this lesson you will learn how to introduce yourself by name, hometown, where you currently live, and your current occupation. You will learn how to use personal pronouns and declensions for absolute noun markers, which make up small phrases.
Keep in mind that Nahuatl is an agglutinative language. This means that nouns and verbs (which we will see later) are made up of multiple parts, called prefixes, root words, and suffixes. The pronouns and declensions you are about to learn are the base to understanding nouns in the Nahuatl language.
Comiendo Tacos en Chicontepec CC BY Martin the Hunter
A: Piyalli, ¿queniuhqui motocah?
Hello, what is your name?
B: Piyalli, na notocah Paty. ¿Huan ta?
Hello, my name is Paty. And yours?
A: Na notocah Juana. ¿Canin tiehua?
My name is Juana. Where are you from?
B: Na niehua Tecomate, Chicontepec.
I am from Tecomate, Chicontepec.
A: Ah cualtitoc, na nican Mexco niehua. Huan ta ¿tlen ticchihua nican Mexco?
Ah, excellent, I am from here in Mexico. And you, what do you do here in Mexico?
B: Na nimomachtia huan nitlamachtia pan caltlamachtican tlen UNAM.
I am a student and I teach at the school of the UNAM.
A: ¿Tlen titlamachtia?
What do teach?
B: Na nitlamachtia Nahuatl.
I teach Nahuatl.
A: Ohh, cualtitoc, teipan timoittazceh.
Ohh, excellent, see you later.
B: Quena, teipanoc.
Singular and Plural Pronouns
Tlatocaxtiliztli tlen axquipiya itecoh (Absolute Nouns)
ni – (noun base) – tl /tli /li /n /ø
ti – (noun base) – tl /tli /li /n /ø
ø – (noun base) – tl /tli /li /n /ø
ti – (noun base) – meh
in – (noun base) – meh
ø – (noun base) – meh
Tlamanextilli tlatocaxtiliztli tlen axquipiya itecoh (Examples of absolute nouns)
Take into consideration that these nouns are not marked by a 1st and 2nd, singular and plural subject prefixes (ni, ti / ti, in). But they are marked by the 3rd person singular and plural (ø). All absolute nouns are marked by their respective suffixes (tl, tli, li, n, and ø).
For plural nouns, the singular suffixes (tl, tli, li, n, y ø) are substituted by the plural suffix -meh. There are cases where inanimate nouns are not pluralized, although these need to be taken on a case by case. For example:
(ø)macehualmeh “indigenous person”
(ø)comalli / comalmeh “pans”
(ø)tepoztli / tepozmeh “machines, metals”
Tlamanextilli tlatocaxtiliztli tlen axquipiya itecoh tlen tlatzinpeuhquetl (Examples of nouns with subject markers)
Note that not all nouns can decline with their respective subject markers. Most absolute nouns, in addition to loan words from the Spanish language, are 3rd person singular and 3rd person plural (see above). When nouns decline with 1st and 2nd, singular and plural prefixes, they form small non-verbal phrases.
Nicihuatl “I am a woman”
Ticihuatl “You are a woman”
(ø)Cihuatl “He/she is a woman”
Ticihuameh “We are women”
Incihuameh “You all are women”
(ø)Cihuameh “They are women”
Nimacehualli “I am an indigenous person”
Timacehualli “You are an indigenous person”
(ø)Macehualli “He/she is an indigenous person”
Timacehualmeh “We are indigenous persons”
Inmacehualmeh “You all are indigenous persons”
(ø)Macehualmeh “They are indigenous persons”
As an exercise, decline the following absolute nouns with their respective prefixes and suffixes (both singular and plural). Remember that not all absolute nouns can decline with a subject prefix or a plural suffix.