General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 27 Feb 2021/4 Dog
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Moctezuma speaks to nobles, Florentine Codex Book 4

Moctezuma, Montezuma, Motecuhzoma?

So just what WAS his name?! Least correct, but most commonly used in English literature is Montezuma. Best bet overall is Moctezuma. But this is a Spanish approximation of the real thing... (Written/compiled by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore)

We reproduce here the thoughts of two friends of Mexicolore and world-class experts in Náhuatl, the language of the Mexica (Aztecs), Gordon Whittaker and Michael McCafferty, for those who just HAVE to get to the bottom of this... With thanks to the online forum Nahuat-l.

MMcC: Phonetically speaking, the name is [mote:kwso:ma].
[-te:kw-] ‘lord’ offers transcriptional challenges, but it has been
written -teuc- as well as -tecuh-, which can really throw someone off in terms of how the name should be pronounced. The English spelling “Montezuma” deftly sidesteps the whole issue, losing of course a great deal of the original pronunciation.

[so:ma:lli] is ‘anger’.

[(mo)so:ma] means to ‘to make an angry face, to frown”.

GW: The name is construed from a verb with embedded noun. The verb is indeed mo-zo:ma (o: here is equivalent to the vowel o with a macron over it for length) “to frown with severity,
displeasure, or anger; be (or grow) angry”. The embedded noun is most frequently written either te:cuh- (my favorite) or te:uc- (more common these days) “lord”, spelling conventions which, unfortunately, often cause beginners to mispronounce the sequence as te-ku and te-uk, respectively! The combination of verb with embedded noun yields a so-called sentence name “He is (or Was) Severe Like a Lord”, which is less a character statement with regard to two Aztec emperors and a migration-period lord than to the sun, which was aptly so named at its midday zenith. One can still debate on the question as to whether the name is formed on the present (in which case it would be Mote:cuhzo:ma and the like) or preterite tense (Mote:cuhzo:ma’ with a final glottal stop written either ‘ or h, when written at all).

So now you know! OK, if you want to try and get a LITTLE closer to the original Náhuatl pronunciation, try something like -

Picture source:-
Image - Moctezuma II addresses nobles on 1-Flower Day (Florentine Codex Book IV) - scanned from our own copy of the facsimile edition published by the Club Internacional del Libro (Madrid, 1994).

Hear the name - by a NON-expert...

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