General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 21 Sep 2017/10 Eagle
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Dr. John F. Schwaller

Question for November 2007

Do we only get food words or are there other English words derived from the Aztec language? Asked by Cavalry Primary School. Chosen and answered by Dr. John F. Schwaller.

The coyote (image from Wikipedia)
The coyote (image from Wikipedia) (Click on image to enlarge)

I like to tell folks that they know at least six or seven Nahuatl (Aztec) words. Most of them have to do with food: tomato (xitomatl), chocolate (chocolatl), cocoa (cacao), chilli (chilli), avocado (ahuacatl), and guacamole (ahuacamolli). We also use coyote (coyotl). People who study biology also use the word axolotl, which is a kind of salamander. Those are the most common Nahuatl words in English. Now in Spanish, and especially Mexican Spanish, there are hundreds of words of Nahuatl origin. In fact most Spanish speakers are unaware of some of the more common words.

Note from our In-house Team:-
Some suggest that the American English word ‘shack’ comes from the Náhuatl word xacalli, derived from the two words xámitl (adobe hut) and calli (house or hut).

See examples of 3 food words in 3 languages

Learn just what the Aztec language ‘Náhuatl’ means

Dr. John F. Schwaller has answered 7 questions altogether:

Why did the Aztecs only use wheels for toys and not for transport?

Do we only get food words or are there other English words derived from the Aztec language?

How many words were there in the Aztec language?

Why didn’t the Aztecs ask their gods to save them?

Is Náhuatl taught in Mexican schools today?

Why is the emperor called Montezuma [in England] and not Moctezuma?

Did the Aztecs say a prayer before eating?

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