Help:IPA for Nahuatl

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The charts below show the way in which the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) represents Nahuatl pronunciations in Wikipedia articles. This pronunciation guide is based on the phonology of Classical Nahuatl, and is not valid for many contemporary Nahuatl dialects.

Phoneme Spelling English approximation
ʔ h[2] the catch in "oh-oh"
j y yellow
k qu,[3] c[4] scan
cu,[5] uc[4] squeak
l l[2] leave (not dark l as in "dull")
ɬ l (before a voiceless consonant) Welsh Llwyd Blown voiceless L
m m man
n n[6] nose
p p span
s c,[3] z[4] sack
ʃ x shoe
t t stand
t͡ɬ tl somewhat cheer
t͡ʃ ch choo
t͡s tz cats
w hu[5], uh[4] witch
ʍ hu[5], uh[4] which (for those who pronounce this differently from 'witch')
Phoneme Spelling English approximation
a a bra
ā (long a)
e e met
ē mate
i i city
ī see
o o go[7]
ō go
ˈ Primary stress nearly always[8] occurs on penultimate syllable; in any case the symbol is always placed immediately before the stressed syllable
´ The stressed vowel is pronounced with raised pitch, which is optionally indicated by an acute accent on the vowel of the stressed syllable
Nahuatl has four possible syllable clusters CVC, CV, VC and V[9][10]
example: CVC-CVC-CV tlal-huac-tli[9]
Modern & Variant Orthography[11]
Modern Variant
Huītzilopōchtli, xiuhpōhualli Vītzilopōchtli, xiuhpōvalli
huīpīlli, huei teocalli uīpīlli, uei teocalli
aztecah, azo, zaoc, za açtecah, aço, çaoc, ça
iyo, in, ipan, itzcuīntli yyo, yn, ypan, ytzcuīntli
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. 2.0 2.1 No Nahuatl words begin with an /l/ or a glottal stop /ʔ/ (Andrews 2003, p. 29; Karttunen 1992, p. XI).
  3. 3.0 3.1 Before e and i.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 All other cases.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Before vowels.
  6. The "n" is Nahuatl's most weakly pronounced consonant (Lockhart 2001, p. 112).
  7. The Nahuatl /o/ doesn't quite line up with any English vowel, though the nearest equivalents are the vowel of coat (for most English dialects) and the vowel of saw.
  8. The only exception being vocative forms, in which case the final syllable is stressed.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Canger, U. Ochpaniztli and Classical Nahuatl syllable structure. University of Copenhagen.
  10. Nahuatl words cannot start or end with two consonants. Only Nahuatl verbs can end in two vowels (Lockhart 2001, pp. 120-121).
  11. 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.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Karttunen, Frances (1992). An analytical dictionary of Nahuatl. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 0-8061-2421-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Launey, Michel (2011). Mackay, Christopher (ed.). An Introduction to Classical Nahuatl. Cambridge University Press. pp. 4–5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>