Texas Mesoamerican Meetings

What used to be the Texas Maya meetings have now broadened out to include all of Ancient Mesoamerica.  The organizers are praticularly interested in have folks working on the Nahua and other groups to apply.  Unfortunately the deadline for proposals is fast approaching, October 23.  Please consider a proposal.  The submission link is as follows:

Re: Query: Diacritics in pre-Columbian names

Dear Mario,

Thank you for your reply. I'm looking for not only English spellings, but British, if that can even be applied.

I suppose at some point other languages adopt their own versions of names, so I don't know if this issue has come out formally among the Nahuatl-speaking community. Presses seem to have rules, but they vary.

Thanks again,


Reply: Diacritics in pre-Columbian names

As others have noted, the use of the accents reflects the need to place accents based on current Spanish speakers' pronunciation. The rules of Nahuatl dictate something different. In many place names ending with -tlan or -tan, modern pronunciation places the stress on the last syllable, thus needing an accent in the rules of Spanish. But this is not the case in traditional Nahuatl pronunciation where the accent was ALWAYS on the next to last syllable (yes, except for vocatives and a very few other instances). So, in general I do not use accents on Nahuatl words.

Reply: Diacritics in pre-Columbian names

The samples you mention, Some examples are Teotihuacán, Tenochtitlán, Copán, Chichén Itzá, Uaxactún, Kabáh, and Yaxchilán.

are accented for Spanish. Nahuatl speakers would say Teotíhuacan, tenochtítlah (the "n" is nasalized and hardly, if at all heard) etc..... I do not know about the Mayan words.

If your press wants to give readers a version of the original indigenous spoken word, I would argue for the samples I have shared.

If you are wanting to show how they are said in modern Spanish, then there would be no need to change the orthography.

Query: Diacritics in pre-Columbian names

What are the current standards for placing diacritics on Nahuatl and Mayan words? Are there rules in place, and are these rules different in contexts of English or Spanish? I remember that the penultimate syllable of Nahuatl words is commonly stressed, so it would be redundant to place an accent there. But there are other terms in which I sometimes find an accent on the final syllable, sometimes not. Some examples are Teotihuacán, Tenochtitlán, Copán, Chichén Itzá, Uaxactún, Kabáh, and Yaxchilán.

Your comments will help me create a standard to use by Oxford University Press.

TOC:Hispanic American Historical Review 97:1 (February 2017)

Published in cooperation with the Conference on Latin American History of the American Historical Association


“The Zambos and the Transformation of the Miskitu Kingdom, 1636–1740.” John K. Thornton, p1

“Castas, Creoles, and the Rise of a Maya Lingua Franca in Eighteenth-Century Yucatan.” Mark Lentz, p29

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