lørdag den 15. november 2014

Nahuatl Names: The Nahuatl names in the 1544 census of Morelos


Lots of people are interested in giving their children Nahuatl names. But finding good ones is hard, the few common names such as Cuauhtemoc, Xochitl aren't quite sending the signals many people are interested in anymore.

But there is very little work done on Nahuatl naming. James Lockhart has a brief analysis of changing naming customs from the early colonial to late colonial period and includes a short list of Nahuatl names in his "Nahuas After the Conquest", but doesnt list nearly as many names as we actually know. Lockhart shows us that across most of Nahua speaking Mexico Nahuatl language names disappear very quickly after the conquest, so the best source of names has to be early documents. To get a sense of what actual common people were named and not just the rulers and nobles it would also be great to have names form some kind of secular everyday context. Luckily we do have that.

In Morelos a large census was carried out in 1544 only 23 years after the invasion when many people were still not baptized and many had lived through the Spanish invasion. We only have three books from this census describing all the families in a number of small communities in Northern Morelos. They are full of names, because every household and its inhabitants are mentioned as well as what they were paying in tribute to the Marques del Valle (Hernan Cortes). This means that in this census we have a large collection of actual names of men, women and children, names that we know were in use right around the time of the Spanish Invasion.

In the following I give a list of many of the names in the census of the communities Huitzillan and Cuauhchichinollan, as published by ethnohistorian Sarah L. Cline, UCLA, 1993. (Read more about the censuses here)

 There are 134 male names, 35 female names and 30 of unknown gender.

I give the names in a standardized "classical" orthography, followed by my interpretation of their full phonological form (sometimes the words appear to be abbreviated or to have sounds missing), and my interpretation of their meaning. The meanings of proper names are not alays clear, so if I have no idea what a name might mean I dont add anything, if I have an idea but am not really sure I add my idea followed by a question mark, and if I am pretty sure about a meaning I just give the meaning.

For some names it is clear from the context that they are either for males or females, but for others, especially those of unmarried children, it is not always possible to be certain if a name is a male name or not. One striking thing is that there is much more variability in male names than in female names, five names account for almost all of the women in the census, necahual, tecapan, teicuh, tlaco and xoco. Teicuh means "someone's older sister", tlaco probably means "middle sibling/daughter".

Necahual is translated as "survivor" around the internet, but this meaning is definitely not a literal one, and I wonder where it comes from. The name clearly comes from the verb cahua "to leave" with an indefinite reciprocal prefix so the meaning of necahua would be "people leave each other". Molina gives the word necahualiztli as "despedida" (farewell/parting), but here we don't have the -liztli ending but a -lli ending that usually gives a "passive" meaning. So in my opinion the word would mean something like "she who has been left behind" or "she with whom people have parted". This could be interpreted as referring to a survivor of warfare, but why would one name ones child that? And furthermore it seems mainly to be a name of adult married women (there are some young girls with the name though). This makes me think that is a name taken by women who have parted with their families and married into another household. If we stick with the "survivor" meaning the fact that mostly married women have it could suggest that these women were taken as war-captives, but since we don't have any evidence for such a practice among the Nahuas I think we can go with the former interpretation.

Tecapan I am not sure what means, and xoco means "fruit".Although there are other interesting female names, overall men's names seem a lot more imaginative. Men also tend to be named after animals much more frequently. many men's names seem to be calendar names.

It seems that some names are dependent on the persons social status such that some names for small children seem to be baby nicknames, later to be replaced with a real name, and some names seem to describe some kind of experience. Perhaps Nahua personal names changed over their lives times.

Many names are derived from nouns, but lack the absolutive suffix (and also sometimes the agentive suffix -qui). In the morphological form I add these suffix when I believe that is the case, because I think it is taken off optionally when it is used as a personal name or predicate. Other names are derived from verbs and give "active" names describing the person or something they did.

I'll be filling in new meanings and analyses as I go a long looking up the difficult ones. I have half-assedly tried to mark vowel length to help pronunciation, but there are still lots of long ones unmarked.

The source of all these names is:
Cline, Sarah L., ed. The book of tributes: early sixteenth-century Nahuatl censuses from Morelos (Museo de Antropología e Historia, Archivo Histórico, Colección antigua, vol. 549). Vol. 81. University of California at LA, 1993.



Women and girl's names:
Necahual /nēkāwal/ "farewell/despedida", "someone who has parted"
Teicuh /tēikw/ "someone's sister"
Tlaco /tlahko/ "middle"
Xocoyotl /xokoyotl/  "youngest sibling"
Xochiatlapal /xochiatlapal/ "flower wing"
Cocoliloc, /kokolīlok/ "she is hated"
Xoco /xoko/ “fruit”
Teyacapan /tēyakapan/ "in front of someone"
Ichpochton /ichpochtōn/ "little daughter"
Yaoxochitl /yāōxōchitl/ "enemy flower (a name for marigold)"
Ocoxochi /okoxōchitl/ "pine flower"
Nahuatl /nāwatl/ "clear sound"
Tecapan /tekapan/ ?
Teyauh /teyawtli/ "marigold/tagetes"
Ilhuicacihuatl /ilwikasiwātl/ "sky woman"
Teichpoch /tēichpoch/ "someone's daughter"
Tematlalehua /tēmatlalewa/ "she bruises people"?
Centehua /sēntewa/ "owner of one (stone)?"
Xochitl /xōchitl/ "flower"
Teicuhton /tēikwtōn/ "little older sister"
Mocel /mosēl/ "she is alone"
Xilotl /xilotl/ "young corncob"
Coaxoch /kōwaxōchitl/ "snake flower"
Cozcamichiuhtecatl /koskamichiwtekatl/ "fishnecklace person?"
Tlacoehua /tlahkoēwa/ "she gets/sits up halfway?"
Mauhcaxochitl /mawkaxōchitl/ "scared flower"
Cihuacocoxqui /siwākokoxki/ "sick woman"
Papanton /papantōn/ "little banner"
Tlacoton /tlahkotōn/ "little half"
Cecihuatl /sēsiwātl/ "one woman"
Cihuaton /siwatōn/ "little woman"
Tepi /tepi-(tōn)/ "tiny" 
Cihuanen /siwānen/ "female walker? (if nen under stood as an abbreviation of nenqui "someone who walks") "woman in vain?' (if nen is understood as related to nen- doing something in vain)'
Chopinton /chopintōn/ ?




Men and boy's names:
Yaotl /yāōtl/ "enemy"
Omacatl /omakatl/ "two reed" (a day of the calenedar, and an epithet of the God Tezcatlipoca)
Tecuetlaza /tekwehtlasa/ "he throws (like) a Mexican beaded lizard" (if tecue is understood to be Tecueh the mexican beaded lizard, the Mexican cousin of the Gila monster, common in Morelos)
Itzcuin /itskwin/ "dog", maybe a day-sign name
Xochiquen /xochikemitl/ "flower garment"
Yaquica /yaquisa /yakika/ of unkown meaning or pehaps /ya(o)kisa/ "he goes to war"
Quenmachoc /kenmachok/ ?
Matlalihhuitl /matlalihwitl/ "purple feather"
Quauhtli /kwawtli/ "eagle" maybe a day-sign name
Teuhcatl / tewkatl/ "dust person" 
Coatl /kōwatl/ "snake", maybe a day-sign name
Quaquauh /kwakwaw/ "horn"
Pantli /pantli/, "banner", maybe a daysign name
Huehuetl /wēwetl/ "old one", maybe an age related name
Acotlehuac /ahkotlewak/? "toasted shoulder?" if tlewak is understood as an abbreviation of tlehuacqui "toasted".
Temilo /temilo/ "he is filled up"? If interpreted as the verb temi "fill up" in the impersonal/passive form
Tecocoa /tēkokoa/ "he hurts people" 
Yaquin /yakin/ ?
Tlatlazaloc /tlahtlasalok/ "he has been thrown"
Tlapoca /tlapoka/ "he smokes"
Quauhtemoc /kwawtemok/ "he descended eagle-like"
Poton /potonki/ "he stinks" (interpreted as abbreviation of potonqui)
Pacoatl /pahkōwatl/ "medicine snake"
Olopatzicatl /olopatzikatl/ olotl is the hard core of the corn cob, tzikatl is an ant, I have no idea how to fit the pa in or what the meaning would be.
Mimich /mimich/ "little fish"
Cihuacoatl /siwakōwatl/ "woman snake" (a noble title)
Nacxitl /nakxitl/ This word is of unkown meaning, but probably contains the word ikxitl "foot", it is famous as one of the names of the legendary ruler "Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl"
Tototl /tototl/ "bird"
Tochhua /tōchwa/ "rabbit owner"
Zolin /solin/ "quail"
Pihuiyol /piwiyol/ ?
Nauhyotl /nawyotl/  "fourth"
Tenicahuehue /tenikawēweh/
Mito /mi(h)to/ ?
Axolin /axolin/ “salamander”? Axolin could be a variant of axolotl “salamander”.
Quiachton /kiachtōn/ ?
Quauhtlapochin /kwawtlapochin/
Tlacuiton /tlakwitōn/ "little taken thing" if from tlacuitl "something taken"
Ecaton /ekatōn/ "little wind"
Nochhuetl /nochwetl/ ? Seems to be related to nochtli “cactus fig”
Huehuetecatl /wēwetekatl/ "old person/person from the ancient place"
Ilcahualoc /ilkāwalok/ "he is forgotten"
Chichiton /chichitōn/ "little dog/puppy"
Tenoch /tenochtli/ "stone cactus"
Telpoch /telpochtli/ "young man", probably an age related name
Ticocnahuacatl /tikoknawakatl/ ?
Huecamecatl /wekamekatl/ ?
Tlilli /tlilli/ "black ink"
Tetzauh /tetzawitl/ "wonder/miracle/surprise" 
Itzcotocatl /itzkotokatl/ "cut by obsidian?"
Popocatl /popokatl/ "smoke person"
Motolinia /motolinia/ "he torments himself" 
Cuilol /kwilol/
Chichatlapal /chichatlapal/
Tetepon /tetepon/ "short one"
Mecahuehue /mekawēweh/
Quetzal /ketzalli/ "precious plume"
Mizyaotl /misyāōtl/ "cat enemy"
Xiuhcozcatl /xiwkoskatl/ "greenstone necklace"
Acatlo /akatlo/ ?
Ollacatl /ōllākatl/ "rubber man"
Chiucnahuacatl /chikwnāwakatl/ "9 person?"
Huelitl /wēlitl/ ? Probably related to wēli “be able to” or wēlik “delicious”
Elotl /ēlotl/ "corn cob"
Huitznahuatl /witznāwatl/ "person from the south?"
Zacahuehue /sakawēwe/ "old grass man"?
Chimalpepech /chimalpepechtli/ "mended shield"
Acopa /ahkopan/ "upwards"
Tezcacoacatl /teskakōwakatl/ "mirror snake person"
Toqual /tokwal/ “our good thing”?
Caltecatl /kaltekatl/ "house dweller"
Tlilquen /tlilkemitl/ "black garment"
Tepeyacan /tepeyakanki/ "mountain leader"
Chalmecatl /chalmekatl/ "person from chalman (chalma)"
Tlillanhuehue /tlillanwēwe/ "old man from the ink place"
Milli /milli/ "cornfield"
Pozon /posonki/ "boiled one"
Xochihua /xochiwa/ "flower owner"
Mexicatl /mexikatl/ "mexican" (Person from Mexihko-Tenochtitlan)
Teuctlamacazqui /tekwtlamakaski/ "lord priest"
Molotecatl /molotekatl/ "person from molotlan"
Tlailotlac /tlailotlak/ "dirty one?" 
Yaotlhuehue /yāōtlwēwe/ "old enemy"
Coyolton /koyoltōn/ "little bell"
Tecocol /tekokol/ "someone's anger"
Tlacateotl tlākatēotl/ "man-god"
Tlilpotonqui /tlilpotonki/ "he stinks black"?
Cuima /kwima/ ?
Tlacatecpanecatl /tlakatekpanekatl/ "Person from the palace"
Nequametl /nekwāmetl/ "juicy maguey"
Yaonemitl /yāōnemitl/ "enemy arrow"?
Tenahuac /tenāwak/ "close to someone"
Aquahuitl /ākwawitl/ "water tree"
Tlapayauh /tlapayaw/ "it became dark"
Xochiteotl /xochiteotl/ "flower god'
Tlohui /tlowi/ "Buzzard"? If related to tlohtli "Buzzard"
Molotl /molotl/ ?
Quennel /kennel/ "like truth"? 
Huetl /wetl/ ? maybe like chatl/chantli this is really a local dialectal variant of huentli "sacrifice/offering" then it would be /wentli/ with the n and last i elided.
Tematl /tematl/ ?
Cihuatecpanecatl /siwātekpanekatl/ "person from the women's palace"
Chatl /chatl/ ? Cline suggests that it is actually chantli /chantli/ "home" based on the way that the manuscript sometimes omits n's and final i's.
Itzmalli /itsmalli/ "obsidian prisoner"
Tziuhcoatl /tsiwkōwatl/
Epcoatl /epkōwatl/ Name is known as a noble name, but the meaning is unclear
Cozauh /kosawtli/ "weasel"
Xolotecatl /xolotekatl/ "person from Xolotlan"
Tenan /tenan/ I think this is most likely an abbreviation of tenamitl "fortification", otherwise it would mean "someone's mother" which seems rather odd for a male name.
Coyotl /koyotl/ "coyote"
Xochinahual /xochināwal/ "flower sorcerer"
Cihuapan /siwapan/ "on top of women?"
Chicotl /chikotl/ "bumblebee"
Ihhuitl /ihwitl/ "feather"
Tonal /tōnal/ "day"
Mamaz /mamas/ "little deer?" 
Maceuhqui /masewki/ "he deserved'
Amiztlato /amistlatoh/ ?
Cecuiztli /sekwistli/ "cold"
Tequitl /tekitl/ "work'
Tonecocal /tonekokal/ ?
Mixcoatl /mixkōwatl/ "cloud serpent" (Name of a deity)
Ecatl /ekatl/ "wind"
Quauhtliztac /kwaktlistak/ "white eagle"
Chalchiuh /chalchiwitl/ "greenstone"
Tlahtol /tlahtolli/ "word"
Quahuitl /kwawitl/ "tree"
Acol /ahkol/ "shoulder"
Tlahuizcal /tlawiskal/ "rosy light of dawn"
Tochtli /tōchtli/ "rabbit"
Xelhuan /xelwan/ ?
Nencahuitl /nenkāwitl/ "time in vain"?
Itzmiquiztli /itzmikistli/ "death by obsidian/sacrifice"
Yopicatl /yopikatl/ "Me'phaa person" The oto-manguean people called Me'phaa or Tlapanecos in Spanish were called yopi by the Nahuas. Perhaps this person came from the Me'phaa area in Guerrero.
Tozmacue /tosmakwe/ ?
Tozcuecuexcatl /toskwekwexkatl/ ?
Macuilhuehue /makwilwēwe/ "five old man'
Tetlacatl /tetlakatl/ "stone man'
Tolnahuacatl /tolnāwakatl/ "person from a place close to reeds"
Mixcoatlailotlac /mixkoatlailotlak/ ? clearly includes the name of the deity mixcoatl, and what seems to be a word for dirt tlaillotl
Anahuaca /ānāwakatl/ "person from Anahuac (the Mexico basin)"


Unkown gender:
Cihuacuitlapil /siwākwitlapil/ "women's tail" probably a nickname for a young child
Quiauh /kiyawitl/, rain, maybe a day-sign name, probably male 
Matlalaca /matlalakatl/ "purple reed" 
Izcahuatl /iskāwatl/ ?
Qualchamitl /kwalchamitl/ ?
Nahualquizqui /nāwalkiski/ "he came out of sorcery?"
Tepiton /tepitōn/ "little one", probably a nickname for a young child
Tohuacochin /towakochin/ ?
Ozoma /osomahtli/ "monkey", maybe a day-sign name, probably male 
Ecatlatoa /ekatlahtoa/ "s/he speaks like wind"
Tlaocoyoa /tlaokoyoa/ "s/he' is sad"
Cochcanauh /kochkanawtli/ "sleeping duck?"
Matlal /matlalli/ "purple"
Metzaol /metzaol/ "maguey scraping"?
Namiton /namiktōn/? "little spouse?" probably a nickname for a child
Mocauhqui   /mokāwki/ "s/he left him/herself behind"
Yaotlachinol /yāōtlachinol/ "destruction of war"
Xihuitl /xiwitl/ "year/comet/herb"
Tecolotl /tekolotl/ "owl"
Yecatlahua  /yekatlawa/
Tecuizolli /tekwizolli/
Huitznecahual  /witznekāwal/
Chicueton  /chikwetōn/
Ixpanton /ixpantōn/
Ahuilizatl /awilisātl/
tziuhtla  /tziwtla/
temoc /temok/ "s/he descended"
chapopo /chapopo/ “tar”?
Maya /maya/ ?
acmachquichiuh /ac mach quichiuh/ “who didnt do anything?”
quauhquimichin, /kwawkimichin/ "wood mouse" 
cipac /sipaktli/ "crocodile/caiman", maybe a daysign, probably male
pancoz /pankos/ “yellow banner” if from pamitl+kostik
miquiz, /mikistli/ "death", maybe a day-sign, probably male
huitziltemoc, /witziltemok/ "s/he descended colibri-like"




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