A clear answer to whether the languages of the ancient American peoples were made use of for expressing abstract universal concepts can be sought in the case of Nahuatl, which like Greek and German, is a language that allows the formation of extensive compounds. By combining radicals or semantic elements, single compound words can express complex conceptual relations, often of an abstract universal character.
The tlamatinime (“those who know”) were able to use this rich stock of abstract terms to express the nuances of their thought. They also availed themselves of other forms of expression with metaphorical meaning, some probably original, some derived from Toltec coinages. Of these forms the most characteristic in Nahuatl is the juxtaposition of two words that, because they are synonyms, associated terms, or even contraries, complement each other to evoke one single idea. The juxtaposed terms, used as metaphor, suggest specific or essential traits of the being they refer to, introducing a mode of poetry as an almost habitual form of expression.
- According to the passage, some abstract universal ideas can be expressed in Nahuatl by
- Putting various meaningful elements together in one word
- Taking away from a word any reference to particular instances
- Turning each word of a phrase into a poetic metaphor
- Giving a word a new and opposite meaning
- Removing a word from its associations with other words.
- It can be inferred solely from the information in the passage that
- Metaphors are always used in Nahuatl to express abstract conceptual relationships
- There are many languages that, like Greek or German, allow extensive compounding
- The abstract terms of the Nahuatl language are habitually used in poetry
- Some record or evidence of the though of the tlamatinime exists
- All abstract universal ideas are ideas of complex relations.
- A main purpose of the passage is to
- Argue against a theory of poetic expression by citing evidence about the Nahuatl
- Delineate the function of the tlamatinime in Nahuatl society
- Explore the rich metaphorical heritage the Nahuatl received from the toltecs
- Describe some conceptual and aesthetic resources of the Nahuatl language
- Explain the abstract philosophy of the Nahuatl thinkers.