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Why Mexico is written with ‘X’ and not with ‘J’

May 14, 2020

The writing of “Mexico” is institutionally correct, but it does not honor the history of a nation.

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Why Mexico is written with ‘X’ and not with ‘J’Why Mexico is written with ‘X’ and not with ‘J’

This story originally appeared on Mexico Unknown

It is very common for disputes to arise between Mexicans and other Spanish-speaking people over the type of writing on social networks Mexico. To the surprise and disgust of many, she said Royal Spanish AcademyTo write “Mexico” or “Mexico” is correct. The use of Jack is currently not recommended.

How did the discrepancy begin?

Given the sound of the word Mexico, the most natural thing is that “Mexico” was written. However, this way of writing the name of our country has its origin in the root of the word and mainly in the way Castilian was written in the 16th century (the century when Hernán Cortés arrived).

First of all we need to know that eThe place name Mexico comes from the voice Nahuatl “Meshic”. Méshico means “place in the navel of the moon” (there are several versions). The word “metzi” means moon, “xictli” means center or navel, and the suffix “co” indicates that it is a place. The Mexica or Aztecs in turn founded Mexico City-Tenochtitlán on Lake Texcoco (Lake of the Moon) and later their twin sister Mexico-Tlatelolco.

The old town of Mexico-Tenochtitlán / Image: Via México Unknown

The Nahuatl voice for Mexico can currently be heard “Méshico”.that is, the “x” would be pronounced as “sh”. Why isn’t it written with “sh”?

According to the philologist Juan Nadal, yesterday’s Spaniards or medieval Castilian existed the muffled prenatal friction sound that sounds like “sh”. King Alfonso X of Castile, better known as “El Sabio”, later founded the Norma Alfonsí of writing in the 13th century. It was stipulated that the “sh” should be written with “x”.

King Alfonso X of Castile / Image: Via México Unknown

And what happened to the “sh”?

When the Spaniards arrived, they adopted the word Méshico to write under it Norma AlfonsíThe place name “Mexico” was born. Before the 16th century, however, Castilian Spanish had undergone some mutations, including the loss of the deaf prenatal rubbing noise or “sh” that disappeared a century later. Nevertheless, its use is still very widespread in our country due to its large pre-Hispanic heritage.

At the same time there was in the Spaniards of the 16th century the fricative sound velar deaf, the same as “j”. When the “sh” was no longer pronounced in the 17th century, the “j” was used as a replacement. So finally the word Mexico was born, which started a heated fight against Mexico, which was pronounced with “j” or “g”.

When the “sh” was no longer pronounced in the 17th century, the “j” was used as a substitute / Image: Via México Unknown

Mexico a word that resists colonialism

In 1815 the RAE founded the Spelling of the Spanish languageThe rule was that all words written with “x” and pronounced with “j” had to be written with jota “. However, This instruction was not well received in New Spain since the independence movement had begun at this point.

As a result, Writing the name of our country with xis became a symbol of resistance and nationalism. For his part Mexican language academy never admitted using the jack.

It was not until 1992 that RAE accepts that Mexico can be written with “x” or “j”. Finally in 2011 the RAE recommended the use of the “x”, although it still needs to be recognized that this is the correct use. So you know writing “Mexico” is institutionally correct, but it doesn’t honor the history of a word, a nation.

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