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A Note on Orthography, Transcription, and Translation


Sixteenth-century Spanish documents are beautiful objects, and it was a privilege to handle the manuscripts consulted during the research for this study. These documents do, however, present certain problems that each researcher must solve in her or his own way. The journey from those documents to an English-language text involves the reading of the documents, which in itself implies mediation, as sixteenth-century paleography is not always easy to read. Then, once rendered into modern Spanish either in the reader's mind or in a transcription, the texts may, if quoted, be translated into English. In such a case, the quotations have undergone at least two transformations. My goal is to make those transformations as transparent and as non-violent as possible.


Excerpts from the documents I have consulted appear throughout the text. They are presented in English, though technology allows elegant and easy access to the Spanish version with a simple click. I hope this will add transparency to my translations.


The "Spanish version," however, is the version I made after making several decisions concerning orthography. Standardized spelling was not a characteristic of the period. Thus words may appear in several forms, even within the same document. Even personal names mutate regularly. I have chosen to transcribe documents exactly, rather than standardizing spellings. I have also maintained the abbreviations used by the notaries who generally recorded the texts, so that, for example, the word "señor" often appears as "sr."


The images that appear with the appendices provide some access to the original documents. I hope that both they and the longer transcriptions found in the appendices will prove of interest.



Escogidas Plantas: Nuns and Beatas in Mexico City, 1531-1601