Pioneers of contrastive linguistics
Dominican missionaries in Highland Guatemala
This paper revisits the translational practices of Dominican missionaries who worked in multilingual settings in the Guatemalan highlands in the colonial period. It is argued that the missionaries developed the emerging ideas of European Renaissance linguistics and applied methods of contrastive linguistics to indigenous languages long before this discipline came into being. The main argument derives from an 18th-century collection of missionary writings in Q’eqchi’ and Poqomchi’, two Mayan languages spoken in Guatemala. An uncommon phrase-by-phrase alignment of bilingual texts allows for the assumption that a contrastive approach to genetically related languages could be the underlying principle in language learning and translation at that time.
- 2.The Dominican mission and the linguistic environment in colonial Guatemala
- 3.Manuscript #68 in the Berendt-Brinton Linguistic Collection
- 4.Bilingual missionary sources as a first step to contrastive analysis
- 5.An attempt at a contrastive study of selected grammatical domains