Converting Words: Maya in the Age of the Cross / Edition 1

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This pathbreaking synthesis gives an unprecedented view of the first two hundred years of the Spanish colonization of the Yucatec Maya. Drawing on an extraordinary range and depth of sources, William F. Hanks documents for the first time the crucial role language played in this cultural conquest. He explores how colonial Maya emerged in the age of the cross, how it was taken up by native writers to become the language of rebellion against the system that produced it. Converting Words includes original analyses of the linguistic practices of both missionaries and Mayas-found in bilingual dictionaries, grammars, catechisms, land documents, native chronicles, petitions, and the forbidden Maya Books of Chilam Balam.

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Editorial Reviews

“Anthropologist William Hanks has given us a remarkable piece of scholarly work...”
Anthropos Redaktion - Frauke Sachse
“This book is a true landmark.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520257719
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 3/17/2010
  • Series: Anthropology of Christianity Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 472
  • Sales rank: 1,155,434
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

William F. Hanks is Professor of Anthropology, Berkeley Distinguished Chair in Linguistic Anthropology, and Affiliated Professor of Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley. He is author of Language and Communicative Practice and Referential Practice: Language and Lived Space among the Maya, among other books.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

List of Tables xi

Preface xiii

Acknowledgments xxi

1 Introduction: The Field of Discourse Production 1

The Making of a Translanguage

The Body as Totality

A Shifting Voice for Indian Authors

Part I The Scope of Reducción 23

2 Perpetual Reducción in a Land of Frontiers 25

Notes on the Political Geography of Post-Mayapán Yucatán

López Medel and the Spirit of the Laws

Reducción in a Regional Perspective

A Land of Frontiers

3 To Make Themselves New Men 59

Governance of the Guardianía

Disciplining the Senses

Bishop Toral's Vision

Cogolludo's Landscape

Guardianía and Cofradía

Cabildos in the Mission Towns

Part II Converting Words 85

4 From Field to Genre and Habitus 93

Metalinguistic Labeling

Production Format and Author Position

Indexical Centering in the Deictic Field

Stylistic Differentiation of Genres

Multimodality: Speech, Animation, Inscription


5 First Words: From Spanish into Maya 118

Dictionaries and the Problem of Authorship

The Thematic Scope of the Dictionaries

From Spanish into Maya

First Principles

Religious Practices


Language and Signs


Marginal Practices

6 Commensuration: Maya as a Matrix Language 157

Commensuration and Translingual Meaning

Fray Antonio de Ciudad Real, Exemplary Lengua

Key Terms in Reducción and Their Strategic Ambiguities

Than 'Speak'

Dzib 'Write'

Xoc 'Count'

Tzeec 'Preach'

Tzic 'Obey'

Tzol 'Arrange'

Ualak 'Return'

OC 'Enter'

OK 'Cry'

Keban 'Sin'

7 The Grammar of Reducción and the Art of Speaking 204

What Is an Arte?

The Shadow of Nebrija

Fray Juan Coronel, Arte en lengua de maya (1620)

Gabriel de San Buenaventura, Arte de la lengua maya (1684)

Fray Pedro Beltrán de Santa Rosa María, Arte de el Idioma Maya (1746)

Missionary Linguistics as a Hybrid System

8 The Canonical Word 242

The Maya Doctrinas

What Is a Doctrina Menor?

Praying in Maya

Doctrinal Dialogues


Part III Into the Breach: The Dispersion of Maya Reducido 277

9 The Scripted Landscape 283

What Is a Notarial Document?

Writing the Landscape

Xiu Chronicle

Códice Nakuk Pech

The Yaxkukul Surveys

The Titles of Ebtún

Bills of Sale

10 Petitions as Prayers in the Field of Reducción 315

Letters of the Caciques to the Crown, February 1567

Letter of the Batabs to the Crown, March 9, 1567

Petition from Dzaptún, July 20, 1605

Petitions from Numkiní and Xecelchakán, November 1669

11 Cross Talk in the Books of Chilam Balam 338

Doctrinal Language in the Books of Chilam Balam

True God Comes to Yucatán

The Sadness of the Christians

The Words of the Prophet

Epilogue: Full Circle 365

Notes 373

References Cited 403

Index 415

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