Miss Pelican's Perch

Looking at my World from a Different Place

Xochitl, Nahuatl and the Evolution of English


Xochitl is a girl’s name and means “flower” in the Nahuatl language.   Nahuatl is one of the indigenous languages of central Mexico and is spoken today by about 1.5 million people.

The name Xochitl is a bit uncommon, but there are plenty of other words in Nahuatl that we frequently use:  chili, chipotle, avocado, Aztec, tomato, jicama, chocolate, guacamole, coyote, mescal, and tequila.

I know I’m weird, but I enjoy studying the etymology of strange words that make their way into English.  Actually, what is English really but a conglomeration of words from other languages?   The breakdown of English is:  29% French, 28% Latin, 24% Anglo-Saxon/Germanic/Old Norse, and the rest from other languages around Europe.  Less than 1% come from outside of Europe right now.

As we become a more global society, it is fascinating to watch words from non-European cultures entering the language.

How will English evolve in the next 500 years?




6 thoughts on “Xochitl, Nahuatl and the Evolution of English

  1. I have never heard of Xochitl but certainly recognize some of the other words in Nahuatl that you referenced. My husband loves the smoky flavor of mescal. It is interesting to see the origin of words.WeekendsInMaine

  2. Great post. I think studying the etymology of strange words is neat and a great way to learn new thing. Thanks for sharing
    Stopping by from A to Z: X words

  3. That is interesting. I would have thought it was pretty pure to its roots.

  4. My favorite section of English in school was when we looked at the etymology of words. Since then I have continued to follow that hobby. Maybe I am a word nerd.
    My Fragmented Journey

  5. Etymology is endlessly fascinating!

  6. It was fun seeing the etymology for Hebrew in college when I studied it. Because it was only recently revived as a living language, a lot of words for new technology had to be imported straight from other languages, English included.

    Some were imported wholesale, like we find in English (like Telephon), while others they modified to suit the Hebrew language peculiarities. Which is how you end up with verbs like mefaxzim for “faxing” (though of course it isn’t spelled like that).
    Thanks for sharing!

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