Is “Atlantic” a Nahuatl word?

Every one of us who are interested in Mesoamerica know some Aztecisms in other languages. The most known is probably xocolatl, which is used in the most languages, be it chocolate, chocolat, choklad, schokolade, suklaa, and so on. The Maya called it chocol haa. The raw form was called cacahuatl – which sounds a lot like our today’s cacao – and in the form of beans a form of payment in the Aztec Empire. On the following picture, you can see the Aztec symbol for 100 bags of cacao right next to the furs. Each of those paper flags on top of the big form symbolize 20 bags.

Bags of cacahuatl amongst other tributes
Codex Mendoza 47r

We know also several other words, that survived from Nahuatl in our languages today, be they tomatl (tomato), coyotl (coyote, “mixed style”), Axolotl (the amphibian) or even ahuacatl (Avocado). There is one more word, I want to talk about today however, and that is “Atlantico”.

If we have a look at the Nahuatl grammar, we can see, that it could actually be a Nahuatl word. Even though this is mere speculation, I will do some rigid explaining and guessing. Let’s have a look at the first part of the word. For better visualisation, I will write the Nahuatl words in bold and the English in italic type.

Atlan is a combination of atl, meaning water, and the locative -tlan, which can mean in, into, under or in between. Atlan therefore could say “in between the water” or “the water in between”. Remember: In Nahuatl the first noun loses its suffix, when two nouns are combined.

The suffix -tico is a bit puzzling here. The part -ti can have many meanings in Nahuatl. In this context, it could
1. mean “you”
2. make the expression before a verb in the sense of “to be in water” or “to become water”,
3. be the optative of the outbound motion form -tiuh“could go to do” or
4. signal, that the following verb is an auxiliary verb to the one in front of -ti.

The end -co is not much easier to interpret as it could be
1. a simple locative, signaling the name of a place (like in Acapulco) or
2. the simple past of quiuh: “to come to do”.

With a lot of fantasy, one could even interpret -tico in relation to -co, as -titlan in relation to -tlan. Then -tico would just be an extended locative; but I’ve never seen this form so far.

After all that, we have several possible meanings for Atlantico, if we read it as a Nahuatl word:
1. The water in between
2. You came to become water in between
3. The place, where to become water
4. The place, that is under water
(oh dear, I hope, I didn’t start a new fashion here. “BREAKING NEWS: Judugrovee proves – Aztecs knew about Atlantis!”)

The Aztec knew it as Place under the Water... not!

Now that’s some variety, with which we can wildly speculate further. But we get yet another interesting meaning, if we read it as a modern Nahuatl word. Atlantico is the way, modern Nahuas call the ocean, a loan word from Spanish – Ilhuicaatl Atl√°ntico to be exact.

What we have here is a possibility to construct secret knowledge of something from an ancient culture, which is merely a coincidence. That’s how misconceptions can be produced. I think, we have enough fascinating things, in the culture of Mesoamerica, be it ancient or modern. It’s not needed to find proof of Atlantis in one of the languages to be fascinating. Focusing on those constructed misconceptions (like Mayan deities, that didn’t exist), we can easily fall short of the real thing, that happened and still happens today.

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