Posted by: ayac | October 11, 2014

Auh

In Nahuatl as Written (p. 82) James Lockhart says:

[The word auh] refers to sentence-level phenomena only. We translate it sometimes as “and,” occasionally as “but,” and often not at all except as a preceding period or semicolon, but it tells us that the previous statement is complete and that a new one is beginning.

He says essentially the same thing in his edition of Carochi’s grammar (p. 459, footnote 4), the index of which even lists it as “auh, particle indicating the beginning of a new independent statement”.

But auh can have other uses within a sentence which I think are important to recognize. J. Richard Andrews briefly acknowledged some other uses in Introduction to Classical Nahuatl (revised edition, pp. 546–547), though I didn’t notice that until just now because it’s not a particularly user-friendly book.

I came across a good example in Fable 28, The Seer:

quilhui. quen otimochiuh Yn huel oticachtopayhtohuaya teaxca tetlatqui: auh in tlein tepan mochihuaz oticmomachiztiaya: auh yye tehuatl hamo huel oticma yn tlein mopan mochihuaz?

“He said to him: How did you come to be able to make predictions about other people’s things, and to claim to know what would happen to people, yet you weren’t able to know what would happen to yourself?”

The in (also written yn, or i before y) at the start of each clause indicates that it’s subordinate and can’t be an independent sentence. The punctuation helps to make things clear too, with the end of a subclause marked by a colon, and the question mark at the very end. It doesn’t make much sense to interpret auh yye tehuatl hamo huel oticma… ? as a question on its own; the question must start with quen “how”, and everything that follows up to the question mark is part of a single sentence.

I might add more examples here later.

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