On the birth name of Do=?iso-8859-1?Q?=F1a_?=Marina

Kier Salmon k_salmon at ipinc.net
Tue Mar 26 15:12:42 UTC 2013

I just ran into something that revived a question I had years ago.

In many places it is asserted that the slave who became an interpreter, Doña Marina, was named "Malinalli." by her parents because she "born on that day."

In so far as I have seen, she would have had a number prefix to the name if that were so… Eyi-Mallinalli, frex.
I've always considered that to be a backward false etymology.  Marina would have been pronounced (by her and all nahuatl speakers), Malina.  This being a word without meaning, they would have naturally used the word closest in sound to it.

Recently I have found a new name attributed to her.  Apparently this happened as far back as 1998, where it was claimed her nickname (or use name) was Tenepal.  I've found "Cypess, Sandra Messinger. La Malinche in Mexican Literature: From History to Myth Austin: U. of Texas Press, 1991." cited as the origin of this name.  But I don't have access to a research library myself to go hunting down references and finding out if it was mentioned earlier.

And the discussion calls this nickname, supposedly given to her by the father who died when she was a child before she was sold to slavery (I'm having trouble getting my head around these things) "Tenepal" meaning "one who speaks with liveliness."

I look at that and dig through my dictionaries and scratch my head.  Teneh (Karttunen) something sharp, a cutting edge.  suffix -pal "for the sake of,"
Molina, the closest he gets is "Tenepantla" en medio de otros

But I go back to the "citation" on the wiki page and think… and Americans would mean "sassy" with that.  But in the Nahuatl culture of the conquest, sassy would have been a very bad thing.  It would not have been tolerated in a girl child.  And Sahagún's compilation of the appropriate treatment of children and their discipline does not suggest a "lively" child would meet with approval and a nickname celebrating this fact.

Does anybody know where the new name suggested came from?  And how likely it might be?
Thank you for your help
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