Alonso de Molina

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Alonso de Molina (1513[1] or 1514[2][3] – 1579[1] or 1585[2][3]) was a Franciscan priest and grammarian, who wrote a well-known dictionary of the Nahuatl language published in 1571.[4]


He was born in Extremadura, Spain in the Province of Cáceres, and arrived in Mexico, still a child, in 1522, during the Spanish conquest of Mexico.[5] He grew up playing with monolingual Nahuatl speaking children in the streets as the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan was being refashioned into Mexico City, and so he became a fluent speaker of Nahuatl.[6] In 1528, as a young man, he entered the Franciscan convent of Mexico city becoming a friar. He taught at the Colegio de Santa Cruz in Tlatelolco along with Bernardino de Sahagún, Andrés de Olmos and Juan Badiano. Besides his clerical duties, Molina devoted himself to the study, understanding and writing of Nahuatl. He composed and preached many sermons in the Nahuatl tongue.

Molina's dictionary.

Molina's Vocabulary in Castilian and Mexican language which he composed between 1555 and 1571 was the first dictionary printed in the New World, and, together with Olmos’ work, was the first published systematic approach to an indigenous language. It is still considered an indispensable tool for students of Classical Nahuatl language.[7]



  1. ^ a b Guadalupe Hidalgo, Margarita (2006). Mexican indigenous languages at the dawn of the twenty-first century. Walter de Gruyter. p. 39. ISBN 3-11-018597-0. .
  2. ^ a b Hernández de León-Portilla 2007, p. 63.
  3. ^ a b Stevenson, Robert (1968). Music in Aztec & Inca Territory. University of California Press. p. 106. .
  4. ^ Lockhart, James (2001). Nahuatl as written: lessons in older written Nahuatl, with copious examples and texts. Stanford University Press. p. 152. ISBN 0-8047-4282-0. .
  5. ^ Escandón, Patricia (2006). De la Iglesia indiana: Homenaje a Elsa Cecilia Frost. UNAM. p. 17. ISBN 970-32-4171-9. .
  6. ^ Hernández de León-Portilla 2007, p. 74.
  7. ^ Karttunen, Frances E. (1992). An analytical dictionary of Nahuatl. University of Oklahoma Press. p. xvii (Introduction). ISBN 0-8061-2421-0. .
  8. ^ Hernández de León-Portilla 2007, p. 73.