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Migrations in Late Mesoamerica$
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Christopher S. Beekman

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780813066103

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813066103.001.0001

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How Mesoamerican Are the Nahua Languages?

How Mesoamerican Are the Nahua Languages?

(p.43) 2 How Mesoamerican Are the Nahua Languages?
Migrations in Late Mesoamerica

Jane H. Hill

University Press of Florida

The Epiclassic Period is generally recognized as an era of major expansions of Nahua-speaking communities throughout Central Mexico, east to the Gulf Coast, and south into Central America. However, these Epiclassic expansions rest on a deeper history that, while often neglected or mischaracterized, can be elucidated by linguistic evidence. This evidence shows that the Nahua did not originate as hunter-gatherers: the Proto-Nahua speech community emerged among cultivators who lived within the Mesoamerican tropics. This evidence also suggests that, rather than remaining on the Mesoamerican margins until the Epiclassic, some Nahua speakers may have been among the elites at Teotihuacan as early as the 5th century A.D. This chapter reviews the major debates about the linguistic history of the Nahua that underlies their Epiclassic expansions.

Keywords:   Nahua-speaking, Teotihuacan, Mesoamerican, Proto-Nahua, 5th Century AD, Linguistic history

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