Inculturation and acculturation in the translation of religious texts: The translations of Jesuit priest José de Anchieta into Tupi in 16th century Brazil

Paulo Edson Alves Filho and John Milton
Universidade de Sorocaba (UNISO) | Universidade de São Paulo (USP)

Abstract

This article examines the translation of religious texts by the Jesuit missionary Joséde Anchieta in Brazil in the 16th century. The article shows that Anchieta used a large amount of inculturation, a readiness to mix Catholic and native Indian terms, in order to achieve the catechism of the Indians, their acculturation into Catholicism. However, this inculturation always remained at a superficial level as Anchieta used terms from the spiritual world of the Tupi Indians but made no attempt to understand the deeper meaning of these terms. The article describes the background of Spanish and Portuguese colonizers in Latin America, lists the characteristics of the Tupi Indian language and analyzes a number of Anchieta’s writings in Tupi in which he translated certain important Christian concepts into Tupi.

Keywords:
Table of contents

This article will examine the translation of religious texts by the Jesuit missionary Joséde Anchieta (Canary Islands 1534–Espírito Santo, Brazil 1597) in Brazil in the 16th century. The article shows that the translations of Anchieta contain a large amount of inculturation, a readiness to mix Catholic and native Indian terms, in order to achieve the catechism of the Indians, their acculturation into Catholicism. However, this inculturation always remained at a superficial level. [ p. 276 ]The study will show that Anchieta used terms from the spiritual world of the Tupi Indians in his translations as “equivalents” for Christian terms as a way of introducing Christianity but made no attempt to understand the deeper meaning of these terms. We make a parallel of Anchieta’s readiness to mix Christian Catholic terms and concepts from the spiritual world of the Brazilian Indians as having much in common with the “dynamic equivalence” found in the work of Eugene Nida. The article will initially examine the background of both Spanish and Portuguese colonizers of what is now called Latin America; it will then look at some of the characteristics of the Tupi Indian language; and will finally analyze a number of Anchieta’s writings in Tupi in which he translated certain important Christian concepts into Tupi.

Full-text access is restricted to subscribers. Log in to obtain additional credentials. For subscription information see Subscription & Price. Direct PDF access to this article can be purchased through our e-platform.

References

Anchieta, Joseph S.J.
1954Poesias. Manuscrito do século XVI, em português, castelhano, latim e tupi, tr. Maria de Lourdes de Paula Martins. São Paulo: Comissão do IV Centenário.Google Scholar
1977Teatro de Anchieta, ed. Armando Cardoso. São Paulo: Loyola.Google Scholar
1992Doutrina Cristã Tomo I: Catecismo Brasílico. São Paulo: Loyola.Google Scholar
Bassnett, Susan
ed. 1999Post-colonial translation: Theory and practice. London: Routledge.   CrossrefGoogle Scholar
Beall, Stephen, M.
1996 “Translation and inculturation in the Catholic Church”. Adoremus Bulletin, Online Edition—Vol. II, No. 6: October 1996.Google Scholar
Bosi, Alfredo
1992Dialética da Colonização. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras.Google Scholar
Brandão, Helena H.N.
1978Uma Análise do Discurso Catequético de Anchieta. São Paulo: FFLCH-USP. [MA dissertation.]Google Scholar
Cunha, Manoela C.
ed. 1992História dos Índios no Brasil. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras.Google Scholar
Fausto, Carlos
1992 “Fragmentos de História e Cultura Tupinambá”. Cunha 1992 . pp. 381–396.Google Scholar
Galeano, Eduardo
1976As Veias Abertas da América Latina. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Paz e Terra.Google Scholar
[ p. 296 ]
Granville, Maria Antonia
1979Ação Catequética do Padre Anchieta Observada a Partir de Algumas de Suas Composições Teatrais. São Paulo: FFLCH-USP. [MA dissertation.]Google Scholar
Hoornaert, Eduardo
1982A Igreja no Brasil Colônia. São Paulo: Brasiliense.Google Scholar
Mello e Souza, Laura de
1993Inferno Atlântico: demonologia e colonização. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras.Google Scholar
Montero, Paula
1995Entre o Mito e a História. Petrópolis: Vozes.Google Scholar
Navarro, Eduardo de Almeida
2001 “The translations of the first texts to Tupi, the classical Indian language in Brazil”. Crop 6. 51–73. São Paulo, Humanitas.Google Scholar
Pagden, Anthony
1999The fall of the natural man. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Paiva, José Maria
1982Colonização e Catequese. São Paulo: Autores Associados.Google Scholar
Pompa, Cristina
2003Religião com Tradução: Missionários, Tupi e Tapuia no Brasil Colonial. Bauru: EDUSC.Google Scholar
Rafael, Vicente L.
1988Contracting colonialism, translation and Christian conversion in Tagalog society under early Spanish rule. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
Robinson, Douglas
1997Translation and empire: Postcolonial theories explained. Manchester: St. Jerome.Google Scholar
Todorov, Tzvetan
1999A conquista da América: A Questão do Outro. São Paulo: Martins Fontes.Google Scholar
Tymoczko, Maria
1999Translation in a postcolonial context. Manchester: St. Jerome.Google Scholar
Vainfas, Ronaldo
1995A Heresia dos Índios. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras.Google Scholar
Wyler, Lia
2003Línguas, Poetas e Bacharéis: Uma Crônica da Tradução no Brasil. Rio de Janeiro: Rocco.Google Scholar