I was solving this puzzle here.

Problem :

In many languages of the world, whole sentences can be expressed with a single word. This is true in Classical Nahuatl, the language of the Aztec Empire that flourished in what is now Mexico between 1325 and 1522 CE. In the following puzzle, try to divide each Nahuatl word into its various parts, and then fill in the translations at the end. Note: The symbol ":" after a vowel simply means that the vowel is pronounced longer than otherwise. It does NOT necessarily mean that the word must be divided at that point.

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My approach was classifying the verbs cry, sing and sleep into their respective person (1st,2nd and 3rd), plural/singular and the tense.

However, when I was trying to classify the subjects, I got the words "anko , ancho" to mean the same word " Y'all " in English, and the same thing happens for the word "we" which comes out to be "ticho , tiko" in Nahuatl.

Is my approach wrong, or what am I missing ?

P.S : I am a newbie to Linguistics.

  • Please include the puzzle in the question. Otherwise, the question and its answers become void with linkrot. Feb 5 at 15:12
  • Yeah, sure I will.
    – linguist
    Feb 5 at 17:06
  • I have added the problem :)
    – linguist
    Feb 5 at 17:12

You were on the right track! However, the morphology is a little more tricky than just person, number, and tense.

Classical Nahuatl verbs have the basic form:

subject prefix + object prefix + verb stem + subject number

Now this doesn't include tense nor mood which can be prefixes or suffixes which greatly complicates things, not to mention the multitude of variations tenses have.

Let's look at some examples from the puzzle:

ankochinih - Y'all are sleeping.

an (2nd pl. sub.) - {no object} - kochi (to sleep) - nih (quotidian tense pl.)

kochiya - He was sleeping.

Ø (3rd sg. sub) - {no object} - kochi (to sleep) - ya (imperfect sg.)

This is a tricky puzzle. I think the fact that there is no marker for 3rd person singular is probably what tripped you up. Good job though!

  • Thanks for the help. So, going by your logic, can we say that kwika is the verb stem for the word 'sing' and 'choka' for crying? Sorry if I am asking silly doubts.
    – linguist
    Feb 5 at 10:39
  • That's correct. Feb 5 at 19:43

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