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For many people, the job of a translator may seem quite modern. But the truth is that for Latino-Americans, the art of translation has been at least since the arrival of the Spanish people on the shore of the Caribbean Sea.
It took a long way from the first interpreters that allowed communication between the Spanish people and the natives and until now, those who work in modern interpretation booths, with all the technological devices they need.
The experience and intuition of the famous explorer, Cristofor Columbus, told him that language barriers could become an obstacle to his plans, which is why he decided to hire two Spanish interpreters speaking Hebrew, Latin, Greek, Armenian, and Arabic among the others. Unfortunately for Columbus, he soon realized that none of these languages was particularly useful when he was trying to communicate with the natives.
More than necessary, the interpreters have proven to be absolutely essential to the success of Columbus’s project. When he and his men stepped on American soil in 1492 and the process of conquest began, there were already over a hundred languages and dialects on the continent, including quiche and nahuatl. Faced with such a variety of languages, the need for interpreters to ensure the success of conquering the New World did not take long for it to become apparent.
There were two types of translators during the conquest. On the one hand, there were a few natives Columbus brought back to Europe to teach them Spanish and prepare them as interpreters. On the other hand, those who came from the first voyage and who lived with natives throughout the years were distinguished, sharing the land and eventually learning their language. In both cases, the function of these early interpreters was to allow communication between the two groups in the service of the Spanish crown.
If you want to find out about interpretation, check out our article on this topic: What is interpretation?
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