Notes on Launey

This is a collection of notes on the chapters in the English translation of Launey's An Introduction to Classical Nahuatl.

I have gathered additional notes, using:

For lexical guidance, I use Frances Karttunen's Analytical Dictionary of Nahuatl, as well as the lexicons in the other books. Some of the notes clarify, others expand on some point that captured my attention.

Chapter One

The assimilation of /m/ to /n/ before /j/ (as in anyōlî) was unexpected. Andrews says that any nasal before /w/ and /j/ is deleted, leaving only nasalization of the previous vowel, which is represented by the "n." In fact, anyōlî might be found in untamed texts as ayōlî (1.11.8, 1.11.9, p.11).

Coda /w/ and /l/ devoice. In some modern dialects coda /l/ is [l̥] and in others it appears to be lateralized, [ɬ].

Chapter Two

Focalization. Note parallel:

(Ca) N in V: Ca cihuātl in tzàtzi.
Cuix N in V: Cuix cihuātl in tzàtzi?
Cuix and ca cannot occur together.

Ca can introduce comment in topic-comment, in tzàtzi ca cihuātl the shouting person is a woman.

Negation. Both à- and àmō may be used for negation. None of my sources can tell me why one might be preferred in a clause over another, with the exception of a ventative construction that requires à-. In compounds, à- is standard. It's possible the preference may be dialectal. But Carochi says, " can be and often is removed from àmō" (5.4.1, p. 405).

There's some dispute about the vowel length in àmō. Normally, word-final vowels are shortened, but because àmō is likely proclitic the final long remains. Launey prefers to shorten it.

Yes and no. In addition to the simple forms, there are honorifics, àmōtzin and quēmàcatzin. Informal "yes" forms are gendered, with iye(tzin) for men and xizo(tzin) for women.

Chapter Three

In older texts, the 3pl object prefix, -quim- may be written as -quin- even before bilabial p or m, as in niquinmaca I give it to them (Lockhart's footnote 4 on Carochi, p. 97).

While the 3rd person subject and object prefixes align along animacy, the indefinites align along humanness; -tē- is only for people.

Copyright (c) 2006-2021 William S. Annis