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Charting the Future of Translation History

Georges L. Bastin
Paul F. Bandia

Current Discourses

Glosas croniquenses: A Synchronic Bilingual (American Indigenous Languages – Spanish) Set of Glossaries

Lydia Fossa

Texte intégral

Theoretical foundations

1Glosas croniquenses is a project that exhibits a distinct postcolonial approach, in that it considers texts as discourses and criticizes those accepted as foundational by conventional historians and anthropologists. Native languages and Spanish, as they appear in those discourses, have been studied as languages in contact by Solano (1991, 1993) and Rivarola (1990), as well as by Rosenblat (1977) and Alvar (1970) among others. These scholars deal with ever-changing Royal linguistic policies, the emergence of Spanish dialects in the Andes, the impossibility of expressing Catholic dogma in native languages, and the influences co-existing languages had on each other. A fresh view on these authors has been the stepping stone for my research on early language conflict in America.

2One strand of postcolonial theory validates the critical reading of early colonial documents about Tawantinsuyu, such as Antonio Cornejo-Polar (1994), who brought forward the concept of heterogeneity in relation to that of migration in order to initiate a discussion about this literature. These conceptual clarifications have been followed by those of Raúl Bueno (2004) regarding the crisis of occidentalization of indigenous populations. Also, heterologies as discussed by de Certeau in describing "discourses on the other" are quite useful theoretical developments to help pin down the core of traces that characterize the early texts by Spaniards on the Andean peoples and regions. I have left behind concepts like hybridism, transculturality, and mestizaje, since they tend to obliterate and obscure the violence of the cultural encounter between Europeans and indigenous peoples and the subsequent manipulation by Spaniards of their cultures, histories, and languages.

3Early Spanish authors had to resort to the memory of living witnesses and khipu keepers' recordings in order to fulfill their needs for written information. They were compelled to transform those personal memories and social registers into historicized texts, forcing them into chronological order. These texts have been through various processes in which intermediation has played a preponderant role. These processes include consecutive translation of the oral expression of the "general language" into oral Spanish. They also involve transfer from the knotted register of the khipu to the written one with ink on paper. If we follow chronological order, these processes will follow a sequence: the Spaniard asks a question in oral Spanish, the "lengua" or interpreter traduces into the "general language." The informants consult their khipu and answer in "general language"; the interpreter translates the answer into oral Spanish; and a Spaniard writes it on a paper folio. We stand before a combination of translation and transcoding processes: information changes language and code while being recorded. Each one of these steps adds a dose of interference to the final message. Notwithstanding all these transformations, the texts contain valuable information about cultural aspects of past civilizations. They have to be reconsidered and re-evaluated, taking into consideration the amount of distortion intermediation processes generate, in order to adapt them to European historiography. The documents themselves have suffered mutilations, loss, deterioration due to humidity and worm damage, besides being subjected to other disasters such as fire, earthquakes, and wars. Some of those documents, once thought to be originals, have since been identified as copies or dictated versions written down by semi-literate scribes, with all the ensuing errors in encoding that might be expected. Glosas croniquenses is also based on Andean linguistics, a discipline dedicated in part to the recovery of the lexical and semantic patrimony of Andean languages. It should be noted that these glossaries spring from texts written in the Spanish language. Native words which appear in those texts are identified as "Americanisms" and they are studied by philologists as loans to Spanish. The Diccionario de la Real Academia de la Lengua Española has two entries, the fifth and the sixth, which can help us define "Americanism." To begin with: "Word, turn, phonetic, grammatical or semantic trace belonging to any American indigenous language or deriving from it" [my translation]. In this understanding, American indigenous languages have passed into Spanish and are identified as alien. The other entry: "Word, turn, phonetic, grammatical or semantic trace which is characteristic of or proceeds from the Spanish spoken in any American country" (1992, 89). This definition refers to the special form acquired by Spanish in America, that is, its dialectalization. It also denotes the language in which the texts studied have been written: a Spanish charged not only with traces, but with indigenous lexical items, besides other defining characteristics.

4This project deals with these "Americanisms" from a postcolonial perspective; this project deals with those "Americanisms" as American indigenous language patrimonial words which appear in Spanish discourses as a consequence of a particular event in time. The authors who used them believed that in so doing they would better explain the American territory to their European readers and also add exoticism to their descriptions. I believe that these indigenous terms form the core of the languages spoken in America when the Spanish invasion took place. Their study offers many opportunities to attempt the reconstruction of numerous native cultural features that have not been well understood or interpreted since the sixteenth century. Besides, it is of the utmost importance to incorporate native words and meaning into the linguistic resources of each indigenous language or idiomatic variety.

5Some researchers have developed glossaries, generally placing them at the end of their editions of colonial texts, but they have added contemporary explanations to the old entries in Quechua or in other native languages. This temporal overlapping distorts synchronic meanings, while at the same time contributing to the dissemination of erroneous interpretations of life in Tawantinsuyu, different from those observed by the first Europeans, and different also from what has been confirmed by archaeology, history, and linguistics. Lexicographers such as Baldinger (1989) register the first time a word appears in manuscripts or in print and also identify the selected words' etymology, without grouping them according to language.

6There is an important work on the lexicology of the sixteenth century, written by Peter Boyd-Bowman in 1972: Léxico hispanoamericano del Siglo XVI, which has recently been copied in a CD format for computer viewing. His emphasis is on building a paradigm of Spanish words used in that period as they appeared mainly in bureaucratic and legal manuscript documents. Baldinger's work and that of Boyd-Bowman are the closest endeavours to my own, though they differ in an important way: they are meant to familiarize the historical or anthropological researcher with the lexical items used in the Spanish language of the period. Their work, then, stems from an interest in the Spanish lexicon of the times, not in indigenous ones.

7In the line of early Vocabularies and Grammars of native languages, we have excellent examples in those of Domingo de Santo Tomás (1560) and Diego González Holguín (1608), among others. Their aim was to appropriate Quechua words and phrases to aid them in their project of catholization and evangelization in indigenous languages.

8On the other hand, the incessant search for indigenous languages' grammatical, morphological, and semantic characterizations through Spanish writers' testimonies has been the task of Rodolfo Cerrón-Palomino for many years. He has advanced Quechua (1987), Aimara (2000), and lately, Puquina linguistics, opening new avenues of explanation and understanding of toponyms, patronyms, and nomenclatures that would otherwise be obscure.

9Anthony Pym's idea of intersection (2000) also provides momentum in dealing with texts that exhibit great examples of multilingualism, and allows for better explanations of specific issues such as sub-lation (Niranjana 1992) and "traffic" of meanings and significations (Pratt 2002). Schleiermacher's notions of foreignness and domesticity (1992) help us understand the position of the translator regarding both the original and his own version. Enguita Utrilla's classification of translation techniques (1996) has been quite useful in delineating the initial, basic approaches to translation activities in the second half of the sixteenth century in the Andean region. Invaluable insights have been provided by César Itier's sophisticated research (1995) into manipulatory translation activities, especially by Spanish friars dealing with catholization strategies and techniques.

10As future tasks of the project, the following appear to be the most urgent. The need for expanding concepts like cultural and linguistic translation in a colonial context is evident. More research has to go into the strategies of conveying meaning in two languages simultaneously, the problematics of perception and representation, and the study of early chronicles as bicultural and bilingual documents. Research into the process of transcoding, that is, of the delivery of what is contained in one code into another, for example, from oral to written, from khipu to oral and to written, also needs to be initiated and pursued.


11The aim of Glosas croniquenses is the identification and recuperation of the lexical and semantic patrimony of indigenous languages, prioritizing Andean ones. These linguistic items will expose ideas and concepts pertaining to the Andean realm in pre- and post-Conquest times. It is a contribution to the extension and deepening of indigenous languages' idiomatic resources, enriching their actual linguistic bases.

12A further priority is the contextualized registration of the Spanish equivalents of indigenous patrimonial terms even though the context in question is a Spanish one. The sixteenth century is a relevant period because the language contact was recent, between fifteen and forty years old. Thus, indigenous languages had been less exposed to the influence of the Spanish language. Insofar as it is possible, the cultural sphere of the use of those words will also be provided. The early Spanish descriptions of life in the Andean region constitute a complex yet unique source for the history and the study of cultural issues of the vanishing Inca civilization, and also the traces of pre-Inca cultural remains.

13The early writers of the texts that comprise Glosas croniquenses were witnesses of what they described and could relate to their surroundings for confirmation or confrontation of their informants' reports. They had first-hand information and are primary sources for the study of the period from historical, linguistic, and cultural perspectives.

14Yet another aim is to develop a better comprehension of the bicultural nature of the narrative, starting with what Spaniards intended to describe and explain to their European readership, underlining issues of culturally based perception and description. Also, it should not be overlooked that indigenous protocols of the spoken word were ignored (Fossa 2002b) when the questioning of informants was practiced.

15The identification of each specific indigenous language is of primary importance here, since many words were either not identified by their Spanish users, or were wrongly attributed to a "general" language. This identification implies a normalization of indigenous terms, especially since they were being representated in alphabetic writing for the first time, resulting in several forms for the same word or words. So far, the identified indigenous languages used by Spaniards in texts written in the sixteenth century in the Andes are Quechua, Aimara, Puquina, Taino, Kuná, and Náhuatl.

16Each bilingual entry allows for the identification of translation strategies in use in the sixteenth century. Interlinguistic equivalences are the most common, but several others are also present.

17As a series of electronic primary sources, Glosas croniquenses seeks to attract future contributors of new texts and glossaries. Every sixteenth-century text dealing with the Andean region is a potential source of native terminology and its equivalents. Thus, the project should be in continuous growth, having numerous contributors and a permanent administrative body to monitor and modulate that growth.

18Last but not least, Glosas croniquenses should generate enthusiasm from funding agencies and institutions dedicated to the support of innovative research in Andean indigenous linguistics. Their help is needed to provide breadth and depth to the project as it currently exists.


19As indigenous lexical items are identified in the Spanish texts, a series of bilingual, synchronic, indigenous languages—Spanish glossaries—are being constructed. Toponyms are included since they offer not only semantic but also geographic and historical linguistic information; they will therefore also help trace the expansion of different cultures, with different languages, through Andean territory. Patronyms form an important part of the glossaries from a dual perspective. On the one hand, they offer semantic meaning, and on the other, specialists still have difficulties in determining if they designated members of one family or if they were honorific titles used only with certain types of officers. Some words in Spanish have been included, when they refer to indigenous cultural objects or functions. Because of this, the glossaries will house the descriptions and definitions corresponding to those items that would otherwise be lost. In some of the glossaries the user will also find a column with the entry from the respective manuscript. Those entries sometimes differ from the ones in the edited work. They are important from a linguistic point of view and also serve as a guide in the linguistic identification of the indigenous term.

20Each entry is made up of the indigenous term as it was published and, when needed, the term in the manuscript, phonologic transcription, language identification, and a citation which carries the equivalence, meaning, and description in Spanish. The preparation of all this information has been supported by the ability of specialized professionals in linguistics, computer programming, paleography, discourse analysis, and history. Regarding the phonologic transcription, I would like to say that this graphic representation is a reconstruction based on the Quechua alphabet officialized in Peru in 1985 (Godenzzi 1987, 41). I believe it is important to add this information because we have found much instability in the way native words have been registered, and consequently in the variety of ways in which they are written in the texts. The graphic representation corresponds to the underlying form of the many ways in which one word appears in texts and manuscripts. This form represents the sounds heard, that is, what the author wanted to write.

21The inclusion of Spanish words describing peoples, officers, and indigenous institutions was decided because many of them are known by their Spanish nicknames: "orejones," "parcialidades," "provincias." These terms are "partially" Spanish, in the sense that only the signifiers are of that origin. The content is native, even though the native word that identifies it is omitted. The proposal of including these mixed terms is based in the concept of the linguistic sign, defined as:

una unidad del plano de la manifestación, constituída por la relación de presuposición recíproca que se establece entre las magnitudes del plano de la expresión (o significante) y del plano del contenido (o significado) durante el acto de lenguaje" (a unit of the manifestation plane constituted by the relationship of reciprocal presupposition established between the magnitudes of the expression plane [or signifier] and of the content plane [or signified] during the act of language) [our translation]. (Greimas and Courtès 1985, 376).

22This definition refers to only one language, of course, the most common instance. But in a special situation of language contact as that of colonization, complex signs appear such as the ones I am describing now, in which the signifier belongs to one language, that of the colonizer, and the signified to another one, that of the colonized. A reversal of this situation is also common: the signifier is indigenous and the signified European.

23Identified words in the native languages usually appear in early texts written by Spaniards along with their explanations or equivalencies in Spanish. The basic unit of study is thus the lexical bilingual pair, synchronic, of the sixteenth century. This is an important time period due to the recentness of the Spanish presence in the area. With the informed help of Marco Ferrel, a linguist specialized in Andean languages, lexical items in the glossaries that form this project have been identified as pertaining not only to Quechua and Aimara, but also to Puquina, Kuná, Taino, Náhuatl, and others.

24The project relies on computer programming to produce flexible and open lists that allow for continous revisions by the project's teams. The word lists are available through the Internet and can be easily accessed for consultation and study. Also, the glossaries' administrators have the possibility and the capacity to continually adjust the material presented.

25The Internet is used to house these glossaries because of its low cost and easy international access. In low-technology countries it is possible to access the glossaries through public computing centres. Bearing that in mind, we have used a format that minimizes illustrations, avoiding heavy files and resorting to simple programs which take up little computer memory. This makes it very easy to access and consult the glossaries quickly.

26Databases can be used independently or in clusters, combined according to the researchers' needs. Information about a single term in all the authors can be obtained, as well as a selection of terms within a single author, and all combinations in between. Users can adapt databases to their research requirements and prepare shorter lists through a selection of data to produce the fusions and combinations needed. Lists can also be printed from the Internet.

The project's development

27This project started, under a different name, in 1997 with a grant from the Humanities Research Initiative of the University of Arizona. It was consolidated in 2000 with a second grant from the same entity. Glosas croniquenses also received a Small Grant from the Office of the Vice President for Research and further funding from the College of Humanities and the Department of Spanish and Portuguese of the University of Arizona.

28Glosas croniquenses' first phase includes three glossaries (see Appendix 1) and will soon be completed when one of the larger glossaries, that of Juan de Betanzos, undergoes a final revision.

29The second phase contains three texts (see Appendix 2) and is also nearing completion. Both phases are already on the Internet, and Zárate's glossary will be undergoing a general revision. The first steps in the construction of Hernando Pizarro's glossary have been taken; that will be the shortest so far.

30The third phase will start with glossaries that will be elaborated from texts belonging to Licenciado Francisco Falcón, soldier Pedro Pizarro, and Friar Bartolomé Alvarez.

31The third phase and pending tasks of the two previous phases are in need of funding in order to be completed, but this project is already a great success (see Appendix 3).



Alvar, Manuel. (1970). Americanismos en la "historia" de Bernal Díaz del Castillo. Centro Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. Revista de filología española, Anexo LXXXIX. Madrid.

Alvarez, Bartolomé. (1998). De las costumbres y conversión de los indios del Perú. Memorial a Felipe II [1588], ed. María del Carmen Martín Rubio, Juan J. R. Villarías Robles, and Fermín del Pino Díaz. Madrid: Polifemo.

Baldinger, K. (1989). "Vocabulario etimológico." In Crónica del Perú. Tercera Parte, ed. F. Pease. Lima: Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, 331–395.

Betanzos, Juan de. (1987). Suma y narración de los Incas (1551), ed. María del Carmen Martín R. Madrid: Atlas.

Bueno Chávez, Raúl. (2004). Antonio Cornejo Polar y los avatares de la cultura latinoamericana. Lima: Fondo Editorial de la UNMSM, Serie Humanidades.

Boyd-Bowman, Peter. (2003). Léxico hispanoamericano 1493–1993, CD ROM.

Cerrón Palomino, Rodolfo. (2000). Lingüística aimara. Cuzco: CERA Bartolomé de las Casas.

Linguística Quechua. (1987). Cuzco: CERA Bartolomé de las Casas and GTZ.

Cieza de León, Pedro. (1985). Crónica del Perú. Segunda Parte, El señorío de los Yngas, ed. F. Cantù. Lima: Pontificia Universidad Católica.

Cornejo Polar, Antonio. (1994). Escribir en el aire. Ensayo sobre la heterogeneidad sociocultural en las literaturas andinas. Lima: Horizonte.

Diccionario de la lengua española, (1992). Madrid: Real Academia de la Lengua–21a Ed.

Enguita Utrilla, José M. (1996). "Indoamericanismos léxicos en algunos textos relativos a la conquista y colonización del Nuevo Mundo." In Studia Neophilologica, LXVIII:2, 233–243.

Falcón, Francisco. (1946). "Representación hecha por el Licenciado Falcón en Concilio Provincial sobre los daños y molestias que se hacen a los indios," in Los pequeños grandes libros de historia americana, intro., notes, and comments by Francisco A. Loayza. Series I, Vol. X. Lima.

Fossa, Lydia. (2001). Glosas croniquenses: el mundo andino en quechua y castellano. Notables daños de no guardar a los indios sus fueros (Polo Ondegardo's glossary).

———. (2002a). Glosas croniquenses: el mundo andino en quechua y castellano. El señorìo de los Incas, Segunda Parte de la Crónica del Perú (Pedro de Cieza de León's glossary).

———. (2002b). "L'interlocution dans la culture andine." In Histoire et sociétés de l'Amérique Latine. Revue de ALEPH: Amérique Latine Histoires, 13 (2001-1). Paris: Harmattan, 99–117.

———. (2004a). Glosas croniquenses: el mundo andino en quechua y castellano. Gobierno del Perú (Juan de Marienzo's glossary).

———. (2004b). Glosas croniquenses: el mundo andino en quechua y castellano. Historia del descubrimiento y conquista de las provincias del Perú (Agustín de Zárate's glossary).

———. (2004c). Glosas croniquenses: el mundo andino en quechua y castellano. Suma y narración de los Incas (Juan de Betanzos's glossary).

Godenzzi, Juan Carlos. (1987). Lengua, cultura y región. Diálogo y conflictos en el sur andino peruano. Cuzco: Centro Bartolomé de las Casas.

González Holguín, Diego. (1989). Vocabulario de la lengua Qquichua o del Ynga. Lima: 1st ed. 1608, Francisco del Canto. 2nd fac. ed. 1952, UNMSM. 3rd. fac. ed. UNMSM.

Greimas, A. J., and J. Courtès. (1985). Semiótica. Diccionario razonado del lenguaje, Spanish version by H. Campodónico y E. Ballón. Madrid: Ed. Gredos.

Itier, César. (1995). "La littérature quechua d'évangélisation (XVIe et XVIIe siècles) comme source ethnolinguistique." In Amérindia. Revue d'ethnolinguistique amérindienne, 19:20. Paris: SELAF, 321-330.

Matienzo, Juan de. (1967) [1567]. Gobierno del Perú con todas las cosas pertenecientes a él y a su historia, ed. and preliminary study by G. Lohmann Villena. Vol. XI. París–Lima: IFEA.

Niranjana, Tejaswini. (1992). Siting Translation: History, Post-Structuralism and the Colonial Context. Berkeley, Los Angeles, Oxford: University of California Press.

Ondegardo, Polo. (1990). Notables daños de no guardar a los yndios sus fueros . . . [1571] (El mundo de los incas), ed. Laura González and Alicia Alonso. Madrid: Historia 16.

Pizarro, Hernando. (1533) [1921]. "A los magníficos señores los señores oidores de la Audiencia Real de Su Magestad que residen en la ciudad de Sancto Domingo." Revista Histórica, 167–180.

Pizarro, Pedro. (1986). Relación del descubrimiento y conquista de los reinos del Perú. G. Lohmann (ed. and Preliminary Considerations). P. Duviols (Note). Lima: PUCP.

Pratt, Mary Louise. (2002). "The Traffic in Meaning: Translation, Contagion, Infiltration." In Profession 2002. Modern Language Association of America (MLA) Journal, 25–36. New York.

Pym, Anthony. (2000). "On Method in Hispanic Translation History," Paper presented at the V Jornadas Internacionales de Historia de la traducción, Universidad de León, 28–31 May.

Rivarola, José Luis. (1990). La formación lingüística de Hispanoamérica: diez estudios. Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. Lima: Fondo Editorial.

Rosenblat, Angel. (1977). Los conquistadores y su lengua. Caracas: Ed. de la Biblioteca, Universidad Central de Venezuela.

Santo Tomás, Domingo de. (1560). [1951]. Lexicon o vocabulario de la lengua general del Perú. Valladolid: Fernández de Córdova, Lima: (fac. ed.). UNMSM.

Schleiermacher, Friedrich. (1992). "From On the Different Methods of Translating." In Theories of Translation: An Anthology of Essays from Dryden to Derrida. Oxford University Press.

Solano, Francisco de. (1991). Documentos sobre política linguística en Hispanoamérica (1492–1800). Madrid: CSIC.

———. (1993). "Aprendizaje y difusión del español entre indios (1492 / 1820)." In Langues et cultures en Amérique espagnole coloniale. Paris: Presses de la Sorbonne Nouvelle, 291–321.

Zárate, Agustín de. (1995). Historia del descubrimiento y conquista del Perú. Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. Lima: Fondo Editorial.


Appendix 1

First phase glossaries



These glossaries have been available for international consultation since:



They are located at:​spanish/​FossaLydia/​Betanzos/​betanzos.htm (2004)​spanish/​FossaLydia/​Ondegardo.html (2001)​spanish/​FossaLydia/​Cieza/​Cieza.html (2002)

Appendix 2



These glossaries have been available for international consultation since:



They can be found at:​spanish/​FossaLydia/​Zarate/​todo.htm (2004)​spanish/​FossaLydia/​Matienzo/​todo.htm (2004)

Appendix 3

In total, the project has received over 2,700 visits since 2001. Detail of these numbers as per October 7, 2004:



Some of the visitors express in writing their positive reactions on viewing the glossaries, and using them in their research projects.

  • In April 2000, I presented the project and the initiation of the first phase with Polo Ondegardo's glossary to the Symposium on Edition and Annotation of Andean Texts at Harvard University. The symposium presentations were published as a book: Edición y anotación de textos andinos in 2000.
  • In February 2001, I gave a presentation stressing Ondegardo's glossary more than the overall project, at the Eleventh Annual Graduate Student Symposium at the University of Arizona.
  • In May 2004, I presented a more mature project with six authors online at the Translation and the Future of History Conference organized by the Canadian Association for Translation Studies, in Winnipeg.
  • In October 2004, I presented Glosas croniquenses to a group of Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú students.
  • I believe it is important now to continue communicating the expansion of Glosas croniquenses among interested scholars. I plan to write a series of letters to colleagues around the world informing them about this useful research tool. I am also approaching funding agencies and institutions for future financing.

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Professor of the Graduate Schools at the Catholic University and San Martín de Porres University in Lima, Peru. Her eight-chapter manuscript Los Inkas bajo la pluma española will soon be published by Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, Catholic University in Lima, Peru, and the University of Arizona. Also ready is her electronic version of the third part of the triptych Glosas Croniquenses: Glosarios tempranos Quechua-Castellano. This Internet publication presents indigenous lexical items and their synchronic Spanish equivalents found in five early Andean chroniclers. Fossa's most recent publication is "Spanish in the Sixteenth Century: The Colonial Hispanization of Andean Indigenous Languages and Cultures," in Ideologies of Hispanism, ed. Mabel Moraña, Hispanic Issues No. 30, Vanderbilt University Press, 2005, 3–39

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