The place-names that residents of the Mexica capital of Tenochtitlan (today Mexico City) gave to their city were both descriptive of topography and commemorative of history. Largely effaced from the Spanish historical register, Mexico City's Nahuatl place-names were rescued from historical oblivion by José Antonio Alzate in the eighteenth century and again by Alfonso Caso in the twentieth. However, effacement is not equal to extinction, and this article argues for the continued use, even creation, of Nahuatl place-names into the eighteenth century. It suggests that the scholar's desire to use place-names as an index to a pre-Hispanic past has obscured the vital presence of the city's Nahua people, and their language, in the colonial period.

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