American Indian languages * American Indian tribes * Native Indian culture

  * Find Native American ancestors in your family tree

Nahuatl Pronunciation and Spelling Guide (Aztec)

Welcome to our Nahuatl alphabet page! The following charts show the pronunciation for the Nahuatl orthography we have used on our site, as well as some alternate spellings that you may find in other books and websites.

Nahuatl Vowels

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Nahuatl pronunciation:
a    a Like the a in father.
aa  a·  a Like a only held longer.
e    ε Like the e in bet.
ee  e·  ε Like e only held longer.
i    i Like the i in police.
ii  i·  i Like i only held longer.
o    o Like the o in note.
oo  o·  o Like o only held longer.
u   u Like the u in flute.
uu  u·  u Like u only held longer.

Nahuatl Diphthongs

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Nahuatl pronunciation:
au aw  aw Like ow in English cow.
ai ay  aj Like English eye.

Nahuatl Consonants

Character
We Use:
Sometimes
Also Used:
IPA symbol: Nahuatl pronunciation:
c  s, k  s ~ k As in the Spanish alphabet (from which the Nahuatl alphabet was adapted), c represents both a 'hard c' (as in cold) and a 'soft c' (as in city). It is pronounced hard before a, o, or u and soft before e or i.
ch  ch  t Like ch in chair.
cu  kw, qu kw ~ kw Like qu in English queen.
h    h Like h in hay.
hu  w  w Like w in way.
l    l Like l in light.
m    m Like m in moon.
n    n Like n in night.
p    p Like the p in pie.
qu  k  k As in the Spanish alphabet (from which the Nahuatl alphabet was adapted), both qu and c can represent the k sound in English key.
t    t Like the t in tell.
tl  ł  ł This sound is a lateral fricative that doesn't really exist in English. It sounds like the "ll" in the Welsh name "Llewellyn." Some English speakers can pronounce it well if they try to pronounce the "breathy l" in the word clue without the c in front of it.
tz  ts  ts Like ts in cats.
x  sh   Like sh in shell.
y    j Like y in yes).
z  s  s As in the Spanish alphabet (from which the Nahuatl alphabet was adapted), both z and c can represent both the s sound in English sun).

Nahuatl/Aztec Pronunciation and Vocabulary Resources

   Nahuatl words
   Nahuatl picture dictionary
   Aztec body words
   Aztec colors
   Nahuatl numbers
   Nahuatl alphabet and pronunciation
   Aztecans
   Native Americans of Mexico
   Nahuatl legends



Back to the Native American Cultures homepage
Back to Native American Words



American Indian art * American Indian genealogy * American Indian houses * Nantucket * Indian tattoos

Would you like to help support our organization's work with the Nahuatl language?



Native Languages of the Americas website © 1998-2014 * Contacts and FAQ page