Content created: 2001-01-06
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English prepositions often correspond to postpostional suffixes in Nahuatl. The absolutive prefix is lost before the posposition:
petlatl = mat
-pan = on, in, for
petla.pan = on the mat
mo.petla.pan = on your mat
nantli = mother
-ïxpan = in the presence of
to.nan.ïxpan = in the presence of our mother
If the noun is possessed, usually the postposition will be attached to a possessive prefix agreeing with the noun, and the noun itself will follow afterward:
- n.ïxpan = in my presence
- ï.ïxpan* to.nan = in the presence of [her] our mother
- ï.pan mo.petla = on [it] your mat
- *-The possessive prefix ï- (a long vowel) before the long i of -ïxpan theoretically would produce a quadruple-length i, but in fact no i in Nahuatl is longer than a regular long ï.
Word order is quite flexible, so long as the possessive always precedes the noun to which it refers.
he died on my mat no.petla.pan ö.mic on-my-mat he-died ï.pan no.petla ö.mic on-it my-mat he-died ï.pan ö.mic no.petla on-it he-died my-mat but not: no.petla ï.pan ö.mic my-mat on-it he-died and not: no.petla ö.mic ï.pan my-mat he-died on-it
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Challenge: If you have come this far, it is time to look at some real Nahuatl. For that purpose a few bilingual readings have been prepared that you can gradually work through with the aid of the Inadequate Nahual Reference Grammar. You will find them listed as the Inadequate Chrestomathy of Practice Readings. Have fun!
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