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Fighting Off Extinction: The Story of Indigenous Mexican Languages

Rick Kearns - Indian Country Today
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April 16, 2014





"The narrative of the last two speakers who don't speak to each other is a powerful one," Anthropologist Daniel Suslak of Indiana University stated. "It strikes a chord with a lot of people. It just happens to not be quite true."

Mexico has 60 indigenous languages in danger of disappearing with 21 of those idioms in critical danger due to dwindling numbers of native speakers and other factors but reports of the imminent demise of the Ayapaneco language, which is on the critical list, are premature.

There are at least 6 million indigenous people who are speaking an indigenous language in Mexico, including approximately 1.6 million people who speak Nahuatl and 796,000 Mayan speakers. While these larger groups are gaining some momentum, with more and more books and literature being produced in the languages, others are in danger.

In late March, Mexican scholars were quoted as saying that of the country's 143 Native languages, 21 are in critical danger of disappearing, meaning that they have less than 200 speakers. Among the most critical are Kiliwa of Baja California that has 36 speakers, and Ayapaneco from Tabasco that is spoken by two adults.

Read the rest at Indian Country Today

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