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Aztec Language

The Aztec language was called N'ahuatl. The Aztecs used pictures which they used as an alphabet. They had hundreds of symbols to use in their writing. Nouns were easy to draw - they drew a cat as a cat and drew a fish as a fish and so on. The nouns were joined together to make sentences. They used the symbols to write down stories and keep records. Words that joined the nouns into sentences were very hard to draw. Writing was an art which was specialized and difficult to learn. Scribes learned a lot of extra information that wasn't recorded because the pictograms were only a clue to the full meaning of the written records. Aztec picture writing was usually conducted by priest or scribes. No one else could read the pictures. The Aztecs wrote about history, religious ceremonies and wrote poetry. The scribes first outlined with charcoal, Then the pictures were painted with vegetables, minerals, insects and shells which accounted for the bright colors.

Aztecs books were called Codices. The books were composed of long strips of paper that folded like an accordian. There was a piece of wood at each end that created a cover. They wrote on both sides of the paper and was read top to bottom or left to right. They were usually 20 centimeters wide and 50 meters long. They were made from deerskin or tree bark.

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