FIGURE 1. Front cover of the Alvarado Vocabulario, 1593.
Fray Francisco de Alvarado’s Vocabulario en Lengua Misteca was published in 1593 at the Mexico City printing house of Pedro Balli (Figure 1). It consists of a title page, ten pages of introductions written by various Dominicans (the Dean and Chapter of the Archbishopric of Mexico, the Provincial Prior Fray Gabriel de San Joseph, Fray Antonio de los Reyes, Alvarado himself), and a 204 folio (408 page) Castilian-to-Mixtec dictionary. The dialect recorded in Alvarado’s text is primarily that used around the town of Teposcolula in the Mixteca Alta. Alvarado (and his mentor brother Alonso de los Reyes) focused on documenting the Teposcolula dialect because they felt that it was “more universal and clear, the best understood in all of the Mixteca.”1
Although Francisco de Alvarado is listed as the only author, the four years it took to produce the Vocabulario involved a number of individuals, both European and Ñudzavui. This corporate effort was acknowledged by Alvarado in his introduction, in which he credited both his Dominican predecessors and “the Indians themselves” as being the book’s principal authors.2
1 “la de Tepuzculula es mas vniuersal, y clara, y que mejor se entiende en toda la Mixtecaï” (Reyes 1593, iii; cited and translated in Terraciano 2001, 71).
2 “Y aunque lo principal se deue a los Padres desta nacion: fue menester mi cuydado por entero en muchas cosas, y en mucha parte del Vocabulario, de tal suerte que los mismos Indios que son los mejores maestros que para esto eran, y an sido los autores” (Alvarado 1593, vi v).