The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 55, July 1951 - April, 1952 Page: 430
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
layman can derive much profit from it. For one thing, the living
example of Motolinia himself, a firm, persevering, and patient
man, is worth much. Despite all his accomplishments-and this
History is only one of many-Fray Toribio de Benavente was a
man of humility. It is that way with most great men. When he
heard an Indian muttering "Motolinia," which means "the poor
one," he adopted the word as his name.
More tangible and practical are a great number of well authen-
ticated facts set forth in Motolinia's History. Such things as his
description of the Aztec, pre-Cortesian, calendar given in great
detail, is today fully authenticated by the stone calendar
preserved in the Museo Nacional of Mexico City. Political and
military events at the time Cortes was in control are related by
an eyewitness, Motolinia. He describes the flora and fauna, the
geography and topography, and the social customs of the Indians
of the City of Mexico and its environs with much vivid detail.
One can read in Motolinia's History extensive witness accounts
of the crumbling of one civilization, the advance of another, and,
perhaps, the birth of a new one. All of this at least three quar-
ters of a century before any settlement was established on the
Atlantic seaboard by Europeans.
Strange as it may seem, certain students, who seem to be sin-
cerely curious, have asked why it is necessary to translate such
source materials as Motolinia's History. These students, it seems,
are not familiar with a few facts known to searchers who have
had to engage extensively in research among Spanish manuscripts.
of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Even if one were to
assume that all historians interested in the history of Spanish
America can read Spanish easily, it should be pointed out that
one must be thoroughly familiar with the sixteenth century
Spanish language, with the paleography of the sixteenth century,
and with the punctuation practices of that same period. Further-
more, one must be able to break up a twenty-five line sentence.
into an average-sized sentence in English, and still retain the
thought of the original. It is thoughts or concepts the translator
transfers from one language to another, and not just words.
The translator of Motolinia's History has done an outstanding
piece of work. Not only has he conveyed the thought of the.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 55, July 1951 - April, 1952, periodical, 1952; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101139/m1/504/: accessed October 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.