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Lesson 1

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Inadequate Nahuatl Lessons

Introduction, About These Lessons

Shortcuts to Lessons:

1 Pronunciation
2 Nouns
3 Possessive Prefixes
4 Verbs
5 Possession Exercises
6 Intensifiers
7 Object Prefixes
8 Reflexive Prefixes
9 Prefix Review
10 Directional Prefixes
11 Tenses
12 Applicatives
13 Causatives
14 Postpositions
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Why Study Nahuatl?

Although there are some speakers of modern Nahuatl in this world, there is not much reason for any normal person would study Classical Nahuatl. Save for a few historians and linguists, and the occasional exceptional ethnographer, most people (including native speakers of modern Nahuatl) can live perfectly adequate lives without it.

On the other hand, Classical Nahuatl arranges ideas in ways that I never encountered before, and leaves me with a satisfying if superficial feeling of deeper understanding of human thought than I had before I took up studying it. Besides, like a mountain waiting to be climbed, Nahuatl is there.

Challenges to the Beginner.

Gifts to the Beginner.

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About These Lessons

This small group of lessons provides a brief introduction to some of the core features of Classical Nahuatl. You will not learn very much Nahuatl here, but it should give you enough of an introduction to simplify your access to more complete textbooks, or to appreciate what is happening in side-by-side texts where Nahuatl is set in parallel with a translation into a more widely known language.

Technical Stuff: Long Vowels. Classical Nahuatl has a distinction between long and short vowels. In most sources this is either ignored (sometimes with resultant misunderstandings) or is shown by a long mark over the long vowel. Linguists sometimes marked the long vowel by putting a colon after it: a:, e:, i:, o:, u:.

In this set of lessons the long vowels are marked with an umlaut (ä, ë, ï, ö). In some cases, adding a suffix lengthens the previous vowel. To show this I have sometimes placed a colon as the first letter of the suffix: ca+:olli = ca:olli = cäolli.

Technical Stuff: Examples. These lessons teach basic Nahuatl largely by means of examples. They often take the form of fill-in-the-blank quizzes, with some blanks already filled out and with others waiting for you to propose answers.

Happy Nahuatling.

Special Thanks

I am indebted to various users of these materials for all sorts of useful suggestions and needed corrections, especially to:

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