Effect of Aztec culture on modern personal names

Anthony Appleyard's picture

Today I saw the Cars 3 movie, and in its end credits was a long list of people who had helped in its production, and one of them was named Tlaloc Alvarez. How common are such Aztec-related personal names in modern Mexico?

from Anthony Appleyard.


In my experience in north central Mexico, the most common Nahuatl names are Xóchitl, "flower" (for females, usually pronounced like 'sóchil' in Castilian), Citlalli, "star" (also for females, a variant form of Citlalin; both have the root citlal plus an absolutive suffix, -in or -li), and Cuauhtémoc, "descending eagle" (for males, after one of the last kings of the Mexica ). These three names are fairly common. Most women named Xóchitl are surprised when they hear their name pronounced in Nahuatl. I once met a Tláloc, but he is the only other one I have encountered. I know a young lady named Cintli, "dried ear of maize," who is from Yucatán and has a paternal surname belonging to a Maya dynasty that figures prominently in the historical records.

I recently saw an interview on YouTube with someone named Xiuhtezcatl Martinez. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xiuhtezcatl_Martinez.


Based on my experience, names based on Nahuatl or other indigenous names are rarer in Mexico than amongst culturally and politically aware Chicanos/Mexican-Americans. Moctezuma Esparza IS AN EXAMPLE OF THIS.

People that have indigenous names in Mexico usually take them on as adults, like many Chicanos (including myself)...

Others, like my kids are give en indigenous middle names so that they people who know them closely know their "spirit names" but they can also have a dominant society name that will not cause them grief in school or at work (what some call their "slave names" .........but I find that deeply offensive. We cannot change the past!)

yesterday, I was at a Danza Azteca ceremony in San Diego. As part of the ceremony, a blessing of a newborn took place. Her name was "Cetzin," "retoño, frescura" (freshness, new leaves or a new shoot on a plant). In other words a rebirth of her "indigenous roots."