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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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Language Barriers under Siege

Language Barriers under Siege

(p.83) Chapter 4 Language Barriers under Siege
Tongues of Fire

Nancy Farriss

Oxford University Press

The program and techniques of language acquisition undertaken by the colonial church relied mainly on the missionary linguists and the young Indian tutors they recruited. Together they devised orthographies in the Latin alphabet for hundreds of indigenous languages, an alphabet that gradually replaced the native systems of glyphs for recording information. Within decades, well in advance of European grammarians and lexicographers, they had also produced dictionaries and grammars for all the major and many of the minor vernacular languages, along with catechisms and other devotional literature. Generations of clergy would depend on these written aids, which continue to serve as landmarks in the history of linguistics.

Keywords:   Oaxaca, Dominicans, language learning, lexicography, grammar, glyphs, orthography, alphabet, Zapotec

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