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Tongues of FireLanguage and Evangelization in Colonial Mexico$
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Nancy Farriss

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190884109

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190884109.001.0001

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(p.27) Chapter 2 Interpreters
Tongues of Fire

Nancy Farriss

Oxford University Press

Interpreters, both Spanish and Indian, played a crucial role in the military conquest of Mexico and in the secular and ecclesiastical administration of the viceroyalty of New Spain. Dependence on these linguistic go-betweens made them indispensable and powerful figures in the early colony but distrusted by all sides as disloyal and self-serving. The early missionaries had to rely on Indian interpreters and preachers to convey the gospel message, but the risk of error and deliberate mistranslation, along with the need for confidentiality in the sacrament of confession, led eventually to the decision to pursue evangelization without the aid of intermediaries.

Keywords:   interpreters, translation, evangelization, colonial Mexico, confession, Indians, missionaries, Oaxaca

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