4
   

Pizarro's Incan interpreters

 
 
Reply Thu 22 Oct, 2015 10:08 pm
In reading accounts of Pizarro's conquest of the Inca empire, I am told that Pizarro conquered the capital, Cusco, using troops drawn from the Inca's subject peoples. This would obviously require communication between the Spanish and the natives they sought to recruit, but Spanish should be linguistically unrelated to Inca and other native languages of the region.

Most accounts give short shrift to this problem, many of them using a single sentence apparently copied from the same source:

"Some of the natives were also taken aboard Ruiz's ship to serve later as interpreters."

(Ruiz being Pizarro's ship's pilot.)

I'd like to learn more about how these natives were taught Spanish by Spaniards who themselves were not linguists specializing in an unknown tongue belonging to a completely unrelated language family. Please accompany quotes by citations and, if possible, links.

 
George
 
  2  
Reply Fri 23 Oct, 2015 06:33 am
This would be a good starting point.

Born on the Island of Puná, Felipillo learned Quechua in Tumbes from
natives who spoke it as a second language. Felipillo learned basic Spanish
from Pizarro's soldiers and was later taken back to Panama by Pizarro.


I'm sure you already know that Quechua was the language spoken by the
Incans.
puzzledperson
 
  0  
Reply Fri 23 Oct, 2015 06:18 pm
@George,
Thanks for that reply, George. But I still don't understand how some Spanish soldiers and some illiterate natives (and for all I know the soldiers were mostly illiterate too) who spoke languages belonging to two completely unrelated linguistic families, ever managed to learn each other's tongue well enough to converse, much less about abstract things like social relations between the Inca and other (subject) tribes, as well as Spanish intentions and proposals for alliances and coordinated military actions. Much less in the time available. (How long did the mutual linguistic learning take?)

I guess what I want is a contemporary description of the process, not just a sketchy statement to the effect that the Spanish took three natives and made them interpreters.
George
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Oct, 2015 06:34 pm
@puzzledperson,
Think about it.

The same process has been repeated over and over. Europeans in North
America, Europeans in Africa, Europeans in Asia. That's how Felipillo learned
his Spanish.

Read further and you will learn how the Spaniards' reliance on Felipillo had
some nasty consequences.
puzzledperson
 
  0  
Reply Fri 23 Oct, 2015 07:48 pm
@George,
You make a point worth considering, George. Of course, in the instances you describe the process took years if not decades, and instead of three random individuals taught by sailors, there was chance for natural linguists to emerge and in some cases for a more structured learning process.

When I see how badly English sailors maul French or Spanish or Italian place names and words, never mind acquiring a working knowledge of the language, the idea of Spanish sailors doing this for Quechan or other native tongues strikes me as preposterous, especially in the time frame proposed.

In my experience individuals may learn a word or two by pointing at objects (which they usually mispronounce and promptly forget), but to communicate something like learning sociopolitical relations and proposing a military alliance against common enemies, etc., strikes me as improbable under the circumstances.
0 Replies
 
George
 
  2  
Reply Sat 24 Oct, 2015 07:39 pm
I wasn't writing about three random interpreters.
I was writing about Felipillo.
puzzledperson
 
  -1  
Reply Sun 25 Oct, 2015 07:24 pm
@George,
Wasn't Felipillo one of three random natives taken by Ruiz, that supposedly acted as interpreters? My point remains.

Also, what is the source for this account of interpreters, and when was it written and by whom? A citation is in order. I could have performed my own vague speculation. What I requested was a description of the process along with sourcing for that description. So far as I know, this could be apocryphal and passed on uncritically since then. (Look up the word "apocryphal" before replying to this.)

roger
 
  3  
Reply Sun 25 Oct, 2015 07:26 pm
@puzzledperson,
George doesn't need help with vocabulary issues.
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  2  
Reply Sun 25 Oct, 2015 07:34 pm
@puzzledperson,
Each one of us, as a child, has learned a language with nothing to go on. The human brain is wired for learning language.

You start with nouns. Then you move to verbs. Then you figure adjectives and the other parts of speech. After you get these, you know the types of things you want to communicate... and you know the things the other party might want to communicate. You fill in the blanks.

The process takes a little time... but considering that both of the parties involved are human, it isn't a very complicated process. This process has been repeated many times throughout history.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  3  
Reply Sun 25 Oct, 2015 07:39 pm
@puzzledperson,
You tell George to look up the word apocryphal?

What a pony wannabe. Could you not be gracious and simply question? You show up as a young asshole.




0 Replies
 
George
 
  4  
Reply Mon 26 Oct, 2015 09:53 am
@puzzledperson,
Per your suggestion I looked up the word "apocryphal" and was gratified to
discover that its meaning had not changed since the early 60s when I first
encountered it.

I am uncertain whether Filipillo was among the three indigenous people
taken to be trained a translators. These were said to have been taken from
a balsa raft. MCNBiographias.com says he was taken at Tumbes.

These are the sources listed for the account that includes the taking of
the interpreters:
Prescott, W.H., 2011, The History of the Conquest of Peru, Digireads.com
Publishing, ISBN 9781420941142
Hemming, J., 1970, The Conquest of the Incas, New York: Harcourt Brace
Jovanovich, Inc., ISBN 0151225605

My intention in mentioning Felipillo was to provide helpful information.
You apparently did not find it helpful. Oh well.
puzzledperson
 
  -2  
Reply Wed 28 Oct, 2015 01:29 am
@George,
Doesn't answer my question. I saw the same two sources cited at Wikipedia. If I wanted a bibliography I could compile it myself.

Let's try again. I want to know where the original account came from, when it was written, by whom, and if it still exists. Obviously, neither Pizarro nor Ruiz was alive and writing in 1970 (the earliest of your two sources). In other words, I want a citation from primary sources. I also want a thumbnail description of the language learning process as described by the primary source (translated into English, since I don't read medieval Spanish).


puzzledperson
 
  -2  
Reply Wed 28 Oct, 2015 01:57 am
@George,
George wrote:

" Per your suggestion I looked up the word "apocryphal" and was gratified to discover that its meaning had not changed since the early 60s when I first encountered it."

Good reply. Yes, I was a little snarky, but when I saw your terse response saying that you weren't talking about three random natives but one particular random native, you seemed to be missing the forest for the trees. I felt like I was chatting with Eliza or some other early "AI" program. Also, your terse phrasing, following as it did my own in another thread, also reminded me of some bizarre "process" imitating me inappropriately.
0 Replies
 
George
 
  2  
Reply Wed 28 Oct, 2015 06:03 am
@puzzledperson,
puzzledperson wrote:
. . . I want to know where the original account came from, when it was
written, by whom, and if it still exists. Obviously, neither Pizarro nor Ruiz
was alive and writing in 1970 (the earliest of your two sources). In other
words, I want a citation from primary sources. I also want a thumbnail
description of the language learning process as described by the primary
source (translated into English, since I don't read medieval Spanish).
That's certainly clear enough. I certainly could not fulfill those
requirements. I wish you luck.

Thanks for introducing the topic. It's got me reading more about Felipillo
and Pizarro.
0 Replies
 
 

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