Book Chapter

'Salvando las almas de los indios': Los conceptos de 'alma/ánima' en las lenguas coloniales náhuatl y quechua


Dedenbach-Salazar Saenz S & Ruhnau E (2016) 'Salvando las almas de los indios': Los conceptos de 'alma/ánima' en las lenguas coloniales náhuatl y quechua. In: Dedenbach-Salazar Saenz S & S (eds.) La transmisión de conceptos cristianos a las lenguas amerindias: Estudios sobre textos y contextos de la época colonial. Collectanea Instituti Anthropos, 48. Sankt Augustin, Germany: Academia Verlag, pp. 185-230.

Taking a comparative stance, this paper shows which methods colonial Nahuatl and Quechua lexicographers and other authors applied in order to translate the Christian concept of ‘soul’. These include loanwords which some of them tried to contextualise formally and culturally in the Amerindian societies; the ‘simple’ mono-morphemic translation of the term as a supposed equivalent in the target language and the creation of a complex vernacular word which used authentic grammatical devices, but may have been coined for the particular purpose. The comparison shows that Mexican authors experimented with the construction of complex words during the entire early colonial period, whereas the Third Lima Council in Peru imposed the exclusive usage of the loanword in the 1580s, leading to a new lexicographical way of figurative explanations by a later lexicographer. A look at the hypothetical reaction of the indigenous recipients of these translation efforts shows that they must have ranged from incomprehension and confusion to what we call ‘nativisation’, an integration of the European term into their own cosmovisions.

Indigenous reactions; Nahuatl; Quechua; Translation comparison; Translation methods

Title of seriesCollectanea Instituti Anthropos
Number in series48
Publication date31/12/2016
PublisherAcademia Verlag
Place of publicationSankt Augustin, Germany