Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. Thomas Merton

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Bad Linguist's Guide to Pronouncing Cat Names

Ahuacatlan: glyph for Place of Many Avocados (ahuacatli)

You aren't the first to puzzle over the tongue-twisting Mesoamerican names we've given the cats. Yes, I did have a linguistics course years ago as an undergraduate, but I didn't get far enough into the class to have to learn proper phonetic spelling. I dropped the class because I needed more time to spend on the Old Norse Literature class I was taking. So, I'll give you my version of how to pronounce the cats' formal names. And maybe a few extra words just because they are so much fun to say--or try to say. The language has a great deal of sounds that make one think the speaker is about to expectorate, but just do the best you can. For more information, go to Then click on "Ancient language, modern soundwaves" to hear the words pronounced. Here are the words that were in the "Avocado madness" post.

Chicxulub (Crater): Chick shoo lube

Quetzalcoatl (Stormy): Ket zal qwat ul

Huitzilopochtli (PetCat): Wheet si lo poked lee
or Tlaxcalli: Slosh col-lee

K'uk'ulcan (Pester): Kook cool khan

Tenochtitlan (Pushkin): Te noke sheet lahn
or TzinTzunTzan: zeen zoon zhan

Tz'ibilchaltun: Ze bill chal toon

tuchtli (rabbit): tooch tlee

Tuchtlan: tooch tlahn
glyph for Place of Many Rabbits

We need to give Twinkie and Pascal (Jungle Pants/Pants Man) formal names also. We are thinking of Coatlicue (co aht lee qway; Earth goddess) for Twinkie and Tlahuizcalpantechutli (tla wheetz cal pahn teh coot lee; Lord of the Dawn, god of the morning star Venus) for Pants, since "pants" is in the new name.

I certainly hope this guide is of some help to you.

photos from; glyphs images from

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