Christopher Columbus: Language And Communication

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Christopher Columbus was determined to find new trade routes to India and so, in 1492, after gaining permission he set out in order to accomplish this task. However, what Christopher Columbus would actually encounter was not new trades routes to India, but a whole “new” world. What exists, however, when you travel to a new country is the possibility of a language barrier between you and the native individuals. This barrier existed when Christopher Columbus first made contact with the native indigenous inhabitants. Luckily, letters from Columbus’s first voyage have survived, and have offered a look into his encounters with the different languages of the indigenous people. Through his accounts a question arises: how does Christopher Columbus describe language and communication is his late 15th century letters? In this essay, I will discuss how Columbus’s use and description of language and communication was a way to show superiority among those Indigenous people he encountered. Having set sail in early August of 1492, it took Columbus and his crew around two months until they would “discover” land around early October. It is in the early instances of contact that Columbus shows signs of superiority through language. When he encounters an island, one of the first actions Columbus takes is to claim and name the island. From his journal entry on October 15th, Columbus and his crew encounter a piece of and Columbus writes, “From this island I sighted another larger one to the

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