chapter  17
Indigenous cultures in translation
ByDavid Moore, Victoria Ríos Castaño
Pages 20

The engagement of the indigenous languages in both New Spain in the sixteenth century and Central Australia in the early twentieth century are both strikingly similar and interestingly different. Translation came about not only as a linguistic and cultural transfer of European religious texts into Nahuatl but also as the interpretation and codification of the Nahuatl culture into European written formats. Scholarly work tends to label the missionaries involved in translation tasks, and more specifically on the codification of cultural material, as 'pioneering' or 'colonial ethnographers'. The goal of the missionaries was conversion rather than the promotion of cultural diversity. In the case of the Nahuatl language, the Franciscans engaged in a joint linguistic and cultural project that scholars have classified into separate periods. Die Aranda brought Aboriginal language, texts and culture to an international, although largely German-speaking, audience.