Go to Intro & Index, Lesson 7, Lesson 9

Content created: 010106
File last modified: 160103

Lesson 8: Reflexive Prefixes

Reflexive Prefixes for Verbs
n(o)- = myself t(o)- = ourselves
m(o)- = yourself, yourselves, him/herself, themselves

Generically, a reflexive verb is a transitive verb in which the subject and object are the same person. In the vocabulary lists, it is convenient to list verbs as:

In general an action can be reflexive if you can do it to yourself.

However several Nahuatl verbs are reflexive in form even though the actions they indicate do not strike us as reflexive in meaning. The abbreviation Vr is used when the verb has only a reflexive form or when the reflexive meaning is substantially different from the transitive meaning.

Examples

   


ältia Vt = bathe

-.nëch.ältia
-.m.ältia
ni.c.ältia
ni.n.ältia
timältia
ammältiah
mältiah
ninältia



In many cases, a Nahuatl verb changes meaning somewhat when used reflexively:

   


cähua Vt = to abandon
cähua Vr = to remain, to cease

ni.qui.cähua
ni.no.cähua
an.nëch.cähua.h
annëchcähuah


cayähua Vt = to fool
cayähua Vr = to blunder, make a mistake

nëch.cayähua.h
ti.to.cayähua.h
tëch.cayähua.h
titocayähuah
tëchcayähuah

   


ihïya Vt = to hate
ihïya Vr = to be grouchy

-.nëch.ihïya.h
ni.n.ihïya
mitzihïya
tiquinihïyah
titihïyah


pohua Vt = to read, count, recount
pohua Vr = to be arrogant, to brag

-.qui.pohua
ni.c.pohua
mopohuah
ammopohuah
timopohua
nimitzpohua
nicpohua

   


teöchihua Vt = to bless
teöchihua Vr = to celebrate a ritual

nëch.teöchihua
nimitzteöchihua
titoteöchihuah

   


Some intransitive verbs have reflexive forms with essentially the same meaning:


tlaloa Vri = to flee, to run

ti.tlaloa
ti.mo.tlaloa
nitlaloa
ninotlaloa
she flees


chäntia Vr = reside

ni.no.chäntia
mochäntiah
mochäntia


ihzotla Vr = to vomit

-.m.ihzotla.h
ni.n.ihzotla
titihzotlah
timihzotla

   


Some verbs have only a reflexive form, even though they may take a regular direct (or indirect or benefactive) object in addition to the "dummy" reflexive object. If there is an object prefix, it precedes the reflexive prefix.


cuitlahuia Vr = to take care of

ti.c.mo.cuitlahuia
-.qui.mo.cuitlahuia.h
ti.nëch.mo.cuitlahuia
an.qui.mo.cuitlahuia.h
ni.quin.no.cuitlahuia
-.quim.mo.cuitlahuia.h
tiquintocuitlahuiah
annëchmocuitlahuiah
titëchmocuitlahuia
antëchmocuitlahuiah
nëchmocuitlahuiah
nëchmocuitlahuia

   

Return to top.

Challenge: Some verbs have very different meanings depending on whether they are reflexive or not. But to know which usage is intended, it is critical to be attentitive to the prefixes. The following verb stem (xaxi) does not exist in Nahuatl. But you can tell the inended FORM by looking at the prefixes and suffixes. Pretend it means "jiggle" and then translate each of the following items.

Many thanks to Guillaume Costille for correcting some (formerly) wrong examples on this page and in lessons 9 and 11. At the time Guillaume was a sixteen-year-old anthropological linguist in the making for whom we may foresee a particularly bright future.

Return to top.