[ Kurly Tlapoyawa ]
Titlahtoa in Mazewaltlahtolli? Do you speak the Nawatl language? If you grew up Chicano or Chicana, odds are that you use hundreds of words every day that are of Nawatl origin! In fact, out of the 63 Indigenous languages that still exist in Mexico, Nawatl remains the most widely spoken with nearly 2 million native speakers. Here are 7 words of Nawatl origin that are common in Chicano communities!
1. Jacalero: From Xakalli, hut. A person who lives in a hut. Often used to describe a transient or poor person.
2. Tlapaleria: From Tlapalli, paint. A small neighborhood hardware store.
3. Tocayo: From Tokaitl, name. Someone with the same name. A namesake.
4. Chueco: From Choko/Chiko, lame in one foot. Used to describe something crooked or “messed up.”
5. Talache: From Talacha, A combination of Tlalli, earth and hacha, axe. A pickaxe.
6. Mitote: From Mitote, a ceremony. Used to describe people who gather and gossip. A snitch or busy body.
7. Cuate: From koatl, snake or “twin.” A good friend.
Interested in learning more? Check out my book “Totacho: Our Way Of Talking” available on Amazon.com. In it, I detail the major influence that the Nawatl language has had on the “Spanish” spoken by Chicanos and Chicanas in the Southwest.
Kurly Tlapoyawa is an archaeologist, author, and ethnohistorian. His research focuses primarily on the interaction between Mesoamerica, Western Mexico, and the American Southwest. Kurly has lectured at UNLV, University of Houston, and Yale University on topics related to Mesoamerica. His recent book, “Our Slippery Earth: Nawa Philosophy in the Modern Age” was published in 2017. In addition to his work in Archaeology and Ethnohistory, Kurly is a professional stuntman with over 35 credits to his name.
Follow Kurly on twitter @KurlyTlapoyawa
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