Education: Learning a Written Language

Spanish is the national language of Peru, but close to half a million Peruvians in the vast Amazon jungle areas speak only primitive native tongues and have no written languages. This block to mass education has long been a worrisome problem for the Peruvian government.

In 1945 the government asked William Townsend of the University of Oklahoma's Summer Institute of Linguistics to head a mission to teach the Indians to read and write their own languages. Townsend, a friendly, energetic man who learned his first dialect (Cakchiquel) in 1917 trying to sell Bibles to...

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