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Where Bilingualism Mattered: Nahuatl on the Western and Northern Frontiers of New Spain

Creative Commons 'BY-NC-ND' version 3.0 license

During the colonial period (1521–1821), translators facilitated the expansion and preservation of Spanish rule in what is now Mexico. Doña Marina relied on her knowledge of Nahuatl, Maya, and Spanish to aid the Spanish forces led by Hernán Cortés, and the individual situations where she became a translator can be considered episodes of translation, but episodes with other translators are less well known. This study examines two episodes where translators relied on Nahuatl as a mediating language on the frontiers of Spanish hegemony, and it proposes that Nahuatl served as a lingua franca in these areas.

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