Abstract

Early American archives abound with references to episodes of communication, translation, and interpretation, and with a diverse array of Native-language texts. They provide evidence both of practical and philosophical colonial projects and of the ways in which Native people used their languages to mediate colonization. Scholars have uncovered a range of methods that diverse peoples employed to communicate with one another, the contexts that shaped the meanings of the words and messages exchanged, and the broader significance of those exchanges for figures far from the point of encounter. The texts and commentaries that flowed from efforts at language learning and linguistic collection bear testimony to ways Native languages shaped Euro-American intellectual, cultural, and religious history. They also transform previous rubrics for understanding American Indian resistance to linguistic imperialism into a social fact with an archive and a material history. Colonial-indigenous language encounters influenced the cultural and intellectual history of Native individuals and communities, providing new media for linguistic expression and new frames through which to consider their own tongues.

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