94014 - Seminar: Nahuatl Language and Culture

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2022/2023

Learning outcomes

This seminar focuses on Nahuatl Language and Culture. The seminar is open to all interested students. The Nahuatl language is part of the Yuto-Nahua (Uto-Azteca) linguistic family and was spoken by the Mexica, also known as/commonly known as Aztecs, at the time of the Spanish conquest. Today it is the indigenous language most widely spoken in the Mesoamerican cultural area. Yuto-Nahua linguistic family included languages that were spoken at the time and can be found in a wide area of the Americas –from the US state of Idaho to Central America (today’s Nicaragua and El Salvador). It is the native linguistic family with the widest geographical area on the American continent.

Course contents

Seminar held by prof. Giovanni Marchetti

The Nahuatl language is part of the Yuto-Nahua (Uto-Aztec) language family. It is the language spoken by the Mexica, or Aztecs, upon the arrival of the Spanish conquerors and, still today, the most widespread indigenous language in the cultural area called Mesoamerica.

The Yuto-Nahua family comprised languages that occupied, at the time of the conquest, a large area of America: from today's state of Idaho (USA) to Central America (Nicaragua, El Salvador). It is the native language family with the greatest territorial diffusion in the American continent.To the illustration of the essential features of the language, always accompanied by practical exercises, the Seminar will add an in-depth study of significant elements of Nahuatl Culture, central to Mesoamerican evolution and, therefore, typical of all indigenous cultures of North and Central America.


Bibliography of the Nahuatl Language and Culture Seminary Grammars:

Horcasitas Fernando, Náhuatl práctico. Lecciones y ejercicios para el principiante, México, UNAM, 2013;

Sullivan Thelma D., Compendio de la gramática náhuatl, México, UNAM, 1992;

Launey Michel, Introducción a la lengua y a la literatura náhuatl, México, UNAM, 1992;


Alonso de Molina, Vocabulario en Lengua Castellana y Mexicana y Mexicana y Castellana, Edición Facsimile, México, Porrúa, 1992;

Karttunen Frances, An Analytical Dictionary of Nahuatl, Austin, University of Texas Press, 1983;

Siméon Rémi, Dictionnaire de la langue náhuatl ou mexicaine, Paris, Imprimerie Nationale, 1885;

Idem, Diccionario de la Lengua Nahuatl o Mexicana, México, Siglo XXI, 1977;

Thouvenot Marc, Diccionario náhuatl-español, México, UNAM – Fideicomiso Felipe Teixidor y Monserrat Alfau de Teixidor, 2014;

Online Dictionaries:

Grande Dictionnaire de la Langue Nahuatl, http://www.sup-infor.com/

Nahuatl Dictionary, University of Oregon, http://whp.uoregon.edu/dictionaries/


Bernardino de Sahagún, Historia general de las cosas de la Nueva España, 2 voll., Madrid, Alianza, 1988;

Bernardino de Sahagún, Florentine Codex. General History of the Things of New Spain (Translation of and Introduction to Historia General de Las Cosas de La Nueva España, 12 Volumes in 13 Books), trans. Charles E. Dibble and Arthur J. O Anderson, Salt Lake City, University of Utah Press, 1950-1982;

Durán Diego, Historia de la Indias de Nueva España e Islas de Tierra Firme, 2 voll., México, Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, 1995;

Toribio de Benavente, Motolinía, Historia de los indios de la Nueva España, edición de G. Baudot, Madrid, Castalia, 1985;


Baudot Georges, Utopie et histoire au Mexique. Les premiers chroniqueurs de la civilisation mexicaine (1520-1569), Toulouse, Privat, 1977. Traduzione italiana: Utopia e storia in Messico. I primi cronisti della civiltà messicana (1520-1569), Milano, Biblioteca Francescana, 1992;

Garibay K. Ángel María, Historia de la literatura náhuatl, 2 voll., México, Porrúa, 1953-1954;

López Austin Alfredo, Cuerpo humano e ideología. Las concepciones de los antiguos Nahuas, 2 voll. México, UNAM, 1980;

León-Portilla Miguel, La filosofía náhuatl estudiada en sus fuentes, México, UNAM, 2006 (décima edición), primera ed.: México, Instituto Indigenista Interamericano, 1956.

Teaching methods

Seminar activity with the aid of IT supports

Assessment methods

Prove in progress; further information will be provided at the beginning of the course

Teaching tools

Slides, video projection of texts

Office hours

See the website of Edoardo Balletta