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The charts below show the way in which the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) represents Nahuatl pronunciations in resource articles. This pronunciation guide is based on the phonology of Classical Nahuatl, which is different from contemporary Nahuan languages. For a guide to adding IPA characters to resource articles, see {{IPA-nah}} and Resource: Manual of Style/Pronunciation § Entering IPA characters.

Phoneme Spelling English approximation
? h[2] the catch in "oh-oh"
j y yellow
k qu,[3]c[4] scan
k? cu,[5]uc[4] squall
l l[2] leave (not dark L as in "dull")
? l (before a voiceless consonant) play; Welsh ll
m m man
n n[6] nose
p p span
s c,[3]z[4] sack
? x shoe
t t stand
t tl somewhat cheer
t ch choo
t?s tz cats
w hu[5], uh[4] witch
? hu[5], uh[4] which (as "hwich")
Phoneme Spelling English approximation
a a bra
a: ? (long a)
e e met
e: ? mate
i i city
i: ? see
o o go[7]
o: ? go
' Primary stress[8] Placed immediately before the stressed syllable.
´ Raised pitch[9]
Modern & Variant Orthography[10]
Modern Variant
Hu?tzilop?chtli, xiuhp?hualli V?tzilop?chtli, xiuhp?valli
hu?p?lli, huei teocalli u?p?lli, uei teocalli
aztecah, azo, zaoc, za açtecah, aço, çaoc, ça
iyo, in, ipan, itzcu?ntli yyo, yn, ypan, ytzcu?ntli
cuahuitl, macuahuitl quahuitl, maquahuitl
tlahtohqueh tlàtòquê


  1. ^ Consonants can be geminated, including /l/ (spelled as ll, but not pronounced as in Spanish) (Andrews 2003, p. 33).
  2. ^ a b No Nahuatl word begins with /l/ or /?/ (Andrews 2003, p. 29; Karttunen 1992, p. XI).
  3. ^ a b Before e and i.
  4. ^ a b c d e All other cases.
  5. ^ a b c Before vowels.
  6. ^ /n/ is Nahuatl's most weakly pronounced consonant (Lockhart 2001, p. 112).
  7. ^ The Nahuatl /o/ is different from every English vowel, but the nearest equivalents are the vowel of coat (for most English dialects) and the vowel of saw.
  8. ^ Primary stress is nearly always occurs on the penultimate (second to last) syllable. The only exception is vocative forms, in which case the final syllable is stressed.
  9. ^ The stressed vowel is pronounced with raised pitch, which is optionally indicated by an acute accent on the vowel of the stressed syllable.
  10. ^ Andrews 2003, p. 655-658


  • Andrews, J. Richard (2003). Introduction to classical Nahuatl (rev. ed.). Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 24-38. ISBN 0-8061-3452-6.
  • Karttunen, Frances (1992). An analytical dictionary of Nahuatl. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 0-8061-2421-0.
  • Launey, Michel (2011). Mackay, Christopher (ed.). An Introduction to Classical Nahuatl. Cambridge University Press. pp. 4-5.
  • Lockhart, James (2001). Nahuatl as written: lessons in older written Nahuatl, with copious examples and texts (Orig. print ed.). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press [u.a.] ISBN 0-8047-4282-0.

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