As we spoke, it soon became clear that Túpac Yupanqui’s mission was, if anything, even bolder and slightly more harebrained—dare I say quixotic?—than the one I had come to interview him about. His translation of Don Quixote was simply the best-known example of his decades-long effort to create a standardized literary Quechua and leave millions of Peruvian schoolchildren with an alternative to what he calls the “language of the invader.” That Spanish has been the definitive language of Peruvian law and literature since the mid-sixteenth century didn’t seem to strike him as a particularly onerous obstacle.
“No language spontaneously produces its own literature,” Túpac Yupanqui told me. “If you know how to read and write, it’s because someone taught you.”
Here’s a great write up about Túpac Yupanqui, who brought Don Quixote to the Quechua language, over on Words without Borders: