Linguistic Correspondence:
Nahuatl and Ancient Egyptian

Charles William Johnson

Science in Ancient Artwork
Extract Nš. 43

Linguistic Correspondence:
Nahuatl and Ancient Egyptian

Charles William Johnson

In our more detailed analyses of the possible correspondence among words of the ancient Egyptian language and nahuatland maya, we have seen that some word-concepts are almost exactly the same in phonetic values. Furthermore, the maya glyphs and ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs share extremely common designs in similar/same word-concepts.

Today, the idea of linguistic correspondence among the Indo-European languages is a widespread fact. From the still unknown Indo-European mother language it is thought came Sanskrit (and the contemporary languages of Pakistan and India); Persian; and Greek, Latin (and many contemporary European languages). The correspondence of similar/same words among the Latin languages is quite visible, with Spanish words, for example, resembling those of French, Italian and Portuguese. English resembles the Teutonic ones, such as, German, Dutch and the Scandinavian languages.

On the other hand, no apparent linguistic correspondence has been observed between ancient Egyptian and languages such as nahuatl or maya, at least to any significant scholarly degree. In the aforementioned essay, we have examined numerous correspondences between word-concepts (and some glyphs) between the ancient Egyptian language and the maya system. The word for day name in maya is ahau, which means place or time in ancient Egyptian. Hom is ballcourt in maya; hem means little ball in ancient Egyptian. Ik means air in maya ; to suspend in the air is ikh in ancient Egyptian. Nichim signifies flower in maya; nehem means bud, flower in ancient Egyptian. And so on, for hundreds of word-concepts that we have examined in the comparison of these two languages.

When similar kinds of linguistic correspondences were perceived by William Jones, in the latter part of the eighteenth century, between Sanskrit and other languages, such examples were sufficient to convince scholars that all of those languages probably came from a mother tongue, the Indo-European language. Today, when linguistic correspondence is observed between the ancient Mesoamerican languages and ancient Egyptian, scholars are unwilling or hesitant to accept the idea that the same laws of linguistics may apply. The reason for this is quite simple: there is no historical basis for considering the possibility that the peoples of these different languages had any physical contact among themselves. Physical contact among the peoples who descended from the Indo-European family is established by historical data. There is no obvious historical data to think that the peoples of ancient Mesoamerica and the peoples of ancient Egypt ever met or came into physical contact with one another.

Nevertheless, historical data aside for the moment, let us examine some of the obvious examples of linguistic correspondence between nahuatl and the ancient Egyptian language.

One very obvious characteristic of the nahuatl language is the extensive use of the letter "l" in most of the words, either as ending to the words or juxtaposed to consonants and vowels within the words. One of the very apparent characteristics of the ancient Egyptian language is the almost total absence of the use of the letter "l" within most of its word-concepts. The letter "l" appears as an ending of words only a handful of times in E.A. Wallis Budge's work, An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary. It would appear that this very dissimilar characteristic between these two languages would discourage anyone from considering a comparative analysis of possible linguistic correspondence between these two very apparently distinct idioms.

However, as we eliminate the letter "l" from the nahuatl words, the remaining phonemes (listed in brackets) resemble the phonemes and morphemes of ancient Egyptian in many cases. Let us offer only a few of such examples to consider a possible linguistic correspondence between these two fascinating systems of human speech.

Nahuatl Egyptian
canoe ACAL [aca-] AQAI boat (page 139b from Budge's work cited above)
reed ACATL[acat-] AQ
reed (139b)
reed (8a)
a well AMELLI [ame-i] AMAM place with water in them, wells (121b)
house CALLI [ca-i] KA house (783a)
serpent COATL [coat-] KHUT snake (30b)
excrement CUITLA [cuit-a] KAI-T excrement (786a)
corn ELOTL [e-ot-] AT corn (97a)
bark, barking HUAHUALIZTLI [huahua-izt-i] UAHR dog (147b) [of a dog]
to come HUAL [hua-] UAR to come forth [child from the womb] (156b)
table HUAPALLI [huapa-i] ABA table of offerings (117a)
old woman ILAMATL[i-amat-] AA-T
old woman (15a)
old woman (18a)
to wash
IXQUILIA [ixqui-ia]
to wash (142a)
to hang out, to suspend in the air (143b)
eye IXTEOLLI [ixteo-i] IT to see (143b)
daisy wheel MALAKOTL[ma-akot-] MAR
to dress, girdle, bandlet,
band (282b)
thin piece of wood (283b)
to tie, to bind (285b)
bandlet (289a)
charms, amulets (289b)
plant MALINALLI [ma-ina-i] MAI divine seed (280a)
instrument used MAMLHUAZTLI[mam-huazt-i] MA to burn up (268a)
to produce fire M'HATTI
fire, flame (284b)
to burn up, fire (285b)
fire, flame, torch (276a)
fire altars, braziers on stands filled with fire (286a)
to hit MAQUILA [maqui-a] M'KH-T
beating, pounding (285a)
to strike, to beat (280b)
to strike, to fight (285b)
deer MAZATL [mazat-] MA,
antelope, gazelle (268a)

onyx, antelope, gazelle (270a)
truth MELAHUAL [me-ahua-]
truth (270b)
righteous (271a)
grinding stone METLATL [met-at-] MET to strike (336a)
[for maize mainly] AT corn, grist (97a)

[In this particular word-concept, one may observe how the letter "l" may serve as a conjunction between aggregate words. One could place the ancient Egyptian word-concepts together and obtain: MET AT [to strike corn/grist]. In this case, we may observe how the letter "l" in the construction could be read almost like an interjection of hesitation or pause in a search for words: met (l) at (l).... Or, inversely, one could imagine the excessive number of "l" letters being dropped. In Nahuatl, the "tl" ending may mean "the thing" to grind (corn) with.]

Nahuatl Egyptian
MEH UTCHA-T the filling of the eye, i.e., the full moon (316b)
leg METZTLI [metzt-i ] MAS-T
thigh (275b)
pain of thighs (275b)
to die MIQUI MIT to die (293a)
[hell MICTLAN [mict-an] MITIU the dead (293a)
death (295b)
dead (295b)
death (266b)
jaguar OCELOTL [oce-ot-] USERU mighty, strong beings
glyph: lion (182a)
movement OLLIN [o-in] UN
to move (166a)
PAHTLI [paht-i]
wood, barks, used in medicine (231b)
seed used in medicine (231b)
to stroll, walk
PAXALOA [paxa-oa]
to go about, to run (232a)
to attack (232a)
beginning of time, the creation (230b; 231a)
primeval times (230b)
to begin
PEHUALTIA [pehua-tia]


primeval time (230b)
rain QUIAHUITL [quiahuit-] HUIT rain (469a)
paternity TAYOTL [tayot-] TAU landsmen, people of the country, men (815b)
father TATLI [tat-i] AT father (96b)
humanity TLACAYOTL [t-acayot-] TA-TEMU all the men and women inhabiting a country (815b)
to do harm
with the teeth
TENTLACIHUI [tent-acihui] TENB to gnaw (882b)
river bank
on the river bank
TENTLI [tent-i]
embankment, dike, barrage (882a)
to embank, to build sides of a canal or dike (882a)
arrival of the gods TEOTLECO [teot-eco] TEH
god THOTH (886a)
approach (858b)
enter (845a)
to approach (846a)
blanket, cape TILMATLI [ti-mat-i] TEM
mat (835b)
mat, sack (836a)
mat (855a)
he who is
closest to the shoulder
TITLAUACAN [tit-auacan] TIT to plead (868a)
to be quiet TLAMATLA [t-amat-a] TAM to be silent (819b)
sovereign TLATOANI [t-atoani] ATI
king, prince, sovereign (97a)
to rule (653a)
lord of the
house of dawn
upper/lower Egypt (815a)
dawn (870b)
belonging to dawn (870b)
dawn (870b)
[many names of gods; 886a,b]
goddess of
earth, eater of dirt
TLAZOLTEOTL [t-azo-teot-] TA
earth god (816a)
a kind of earth (816a)
servant XOLOTL [xo-ot-] SHUT servants (732b)
YAO = war;
TL = enemy]
YAOTL [yaot-] AATI
enemy (1a)
enemies (12B)
enemy (895a)
enemy (895b)
to wage war YAOTLA [yaot-a] AHA-A to wage war (132a)
pig skin ZAZALLI [zaza-i] SHA, SHAA pig (722a)

And, the list goes on and on. As may be observed from the above list, once the letter "l" is eliminated from the nahuatl word, then the linguistic correspondence with ancient Egyptian becomes almost a synonym in some cases. To continue to attribute the thesis of coincidence to such similarities and sameness in these phonemes and morphemes, would seem to contradict the laws of probability. For two distinct peoples, on opposites sides of the planet to have chosen the almost exact word-concept to represent the same/similar thing defies logic. There is little difference between the degree of linguistic correspondence between these languages and the Indo-European languages. In fact, in some cases, there appears to be greater similarity in the cases studied here. Nevertheless, given the fact that no substantial historical evidence exists to warrant postulating the possibility that the peoples of Mesoamerica and ancient kemi actually had any kind of physical contact, the obvious feature of linguistic correspondence between their corresponding languages may continue to be ignored. Regarding the linguistic correspondence between the maya system of ancient Mesoamerica and the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, the phonemic similarities reflect shared meanings, and also a high degree of correspondence in the very design of the maya glyphs and ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.

Linguistic correspondence between nahuatl and ancient Egyptian appears to represent a smoking gun; that is, a trace of evidence that these two peoples did enjoy some kind of contact between themselves ages ago. The fact that we have no real evidence of said contact, or that we have been unable to find any such evidence, should not serve as the basis for denying the possibility of that contact. To attribute all of these similarities in sound, symbol and meaning to mere happenstance seems to be a very unscientific way of resolving an annoying issue. To admit the possibility of physical contact between these cultures has implications for our own interpretation of history and the aspect of technological development of our societies. Such fears are unfounded, given the already obvious fact that our technical know-how could probably not reproduce and build something as majestic as the Great Pyramid.

Furthermore, the question of possible physical contact between these peoples may be resolved in yet another sense: the possibility of a third culture having had contact with both of these peoples. Physical contact between the peoples of Mesoamerica and ancient kemi, may be a mute point. Yet another culture, with still another language (much like the Indo-European language) may have been the source for these two idioms. The academicians may be correct; there was no contact between the peoples of Mesoamerica and ancient Egypt. Contact was between these peoples and some yet unknown culture.


©1999-2008 Copyrighted by Charles William Johnson. All rights reserved.
Reproduction prohibited without written consent of the author.

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Science in Ancient Artwork
Extract Nš43
Linguistic Correspondence: Nahuatl and Ancient Egyptian
6 March 1999
©1999-2003 Copyrighted by Charles William Johnson. All Rights Reserved

Sounds, Symbols and Meaning:

by Charles William Johnson

In the Earth/matriX series, we have observed similarities in the geometry and mathematics of ancient artwork. One would also expect similarities to exist within the languages.

Sounds, Symbols and Meaning explores coincidences in the word-concepts and glyphs of these ancient languages. Two distinct cultures, the ancient Egyptians and the cultures of Mesoamerica appear to have had very similar speaking traits. They both saw a deer, and coincidentally each one thought the sound "ma"; they saw water and both used the sound "at"; they looked at the sky and both again mumbled an initial "k" sound; they saw the dew on flowers and said to themselves a sound beginning with "it"; they looked at their feet and voiced the sound "b"; they got drunk and sounded a "tek" word; they looked at the mountain and said a word beginning with the letter "t"; they saw a lion and said an "m" word; then, they saw the moon and mumbled another "m" word; and so on. Hundreds of similarly related word-concepts and symbols are explored in this brief study in comparative philology, which reveals the possibility that these ancient cultures may have had contact with one another. To attribute so many similarities of sound, symbol and meaning to mere coincidence contradicts the laws of probability.

Sounds, Symbols and Meaning:
Ancient Egyptian, Maya and Nahuatl
Charles William Johnson

Order your copy from:
Science in Ancient Artwork
P. O. Box 231126
New Orleans LA 70183-1126

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