People with poor answers will end up on my tzompantli
May 3, 2011 7:26 PM   Subscribe

I how do pronounce the name Tlacaélel?

As a Pre-Colombian history nerd, my Nahuatl pronunciation is not too terrible, but I have never been able to get a handle on the name above. Irritatingly, I've never found an IPA spell-out either. Seeing as Nahuatl orthography is pretty heavily based on Spanish, the best I've come up so far is Tla-ca-ALE-el, with the ALE being the closest I know how to express the accent in writing, but Ive got no way to confirm this is the proper way to say this name. Can anyone point me towards a good audio pronunciation or IPA version somewhere?
posted by Panjandrum to Writing & Language (7 answers total)
Best answer: I have no idea whether it's an accurate historical pronunciation and whatnot, but he's referred to in this video, and it's short, as a bonus.
posted by gracedissolved at 8:00 PM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Have you considered posting the word on Forvo?
posted by Ashley801 at 8:35 PM on May 3, 2011

Best answer: gracedissolved's link is an accurate modern pronunciation. Historically, the word was probably pronounced very similarly, except for the TL at the beginning. The TL sound used to be pronounced with a voiceless lateral affricate [tɬ]. This sound is really, really hard to describe. It's kind of like saying a "ch" sound out of the side of your tongue, or like a really airy 't' out of the side of your tongue. It's not a sound that is every pronounced in modern Mexico, as far as I know.

So IPA wise, it should be roughly [tɬa.ka.el.el]. I'm ignoring the stess marks and the combining symbol because I don't feel like typing them, and you have that part figured out already.
posted by yeolcoatl at 10:17 PM on May 3, 2011

oh and that [a] should probably be farther back, but I can't convince unicode to make it a tailed a for me right now.
posted by yeolcoatl at 10:20 PM on May 3, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! From gracedissolved's video and yeolcoatl's (what kind of snake are you anyway?) IPA, it looks/sounds like I have got a half-decent grasp on the pronunciation, although yeolcoatl is right, the "tl" is not the friendliest phoneme.

Ashley801, I actually did post the word on Forvo a while back, so far I've had one guy respond with a completely silent mp3. More proof AskMe is the best hive mind on the web, I suppose.
posted by Panjandrum at 8:33 AM on May 4, 2011

It's a pretty straightforward name; Tlaca- is a very common component of Aztec names (Tlacahuepan, Tlacamazatl, etc.), and elel is just the way it looks, with stress on the first e (insofar as there is stress in Nahuatl, it's on the penultimate). The accented "é" is just to provide pronunciation guidance for Spanish speakers who would otherwise stress the final syllable because it ends in -l. Or what yeolcoatl said.
posted by languagehat at 1:09 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Excellent, I was waiting for languagehat to weigh in! I can now mark this as "resolved with authority."
posted by Panjandrum at 1:50 PM on May 4, 2011

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