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Mon, 05/16/2022 – 12:48
Colonial-era dictionaries of Indigenous languages of Colombia are rare, and the few that survive show how they contributed to the erasure of Indigenous diversity. At the time of the conquest, there were more than a dozen languages in use in the Muisca region alone, a fact that was misrepresented by European chroniclers. The Spanish crown’s language policy implemented from 1574 onward relied on the idea of Muisca (spelled here as “Mosca”) as a “general language” that was widespread enough to communicate with large numbers of people, as with Nahuatl in Central Mexico and Quechua in Peru. But this idea of a single language was a fiction; local court documents show that translators were regularly needed for multiple languages within the region.