The Aztec language was called N’ahuatl. The Aztecs developed a system of pictures which they used as sort of an alphabet. They had hundreds of different symbols to use in their vocabulary. Nouns were easy to draw – they drew a cat as a cat and drew a fish as a fish and so on. They joined them together to form sentences, and used them to write down stories and keep records.
Words that joined the nouns into sentences were extremely difficult to draw. The art of writing was very specialized and also difficult to learn. Scribes needed to know a lot of extra information that wasn’t written down because the pictograms only gave a clue to the full meaning. Aztec picture writing was mainly done by priest or scribes. They were the only ones who could read the pictures. The pictures were then brightly colored with vegetables, minerals, insects and shells.
As early 600AD the language was known. These language speakers came from the north in waves, settling in Central Mexico. The Nahuatl speakers were the dominant power. One of the last Nahuatl speaking groups to come to the area was the Mexica. One of the last Nahuatl speaking groups to come to the area was the Mexica, who would become a powerful force in the founding of the Aztec empire.
The Aztec language was part of a larger group of Indiana languages. Other languages included in the same group as the Aztec language are Pima, Comanche, and Shoshone. Aztec writing was not developed enough to express complete ideas or expressions. Aztec numbers were also an important part of the Aztec language. Numbers were used for the calendar and in the use of mathematics, making them an equally important part of the Aztec language.
Despite the fact that the Aztec alphabet was not fully developed, poetry was an important aspect of the culture. In fact, Aztec poetry was referred to as “flower and song” because these were metaphors for art and symbolism. The theme of cut flowers was regularly used to symbolize the temporary fragility and beauty of existence. Nezahualcoyotl was considered by his peers to be the greatest poet of ancient Mexico. His compositions had vast influence, stylistically and in content. Filled with thought, symbol, and myth, his poetry moved his people’s culture so deeply that after his death generations of poets to follow would stand by the huehuetl drum and cry.