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Saving a Near-Extinct Indigenous Language in Mexico

The Straits Times
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July 11, 2016



How to save a near-extinct language #First (Vodafone Deutschland )

The Ayapaneco language has been used in Mexico for centuries and dates back to the ancient Mayans.

According to a 2011 report in the English paper The Guardian, Ayapaneco faces the biggest threat of extinction out of the 68 indigenous languages in Mexico.

As of 2011, there were only two people left in the Mexican village of Ayapa who could speak this language fluently. To make matters worse, these last two speakers - Manuel Segovia, 75, and Isidro Velazquez, 69 - had quarreled and were not talking to each other.

The Guardian reported that Daniel Suslak, a linguistic anthropologist from Indiana University, as saying of the duo: "They don't have a lot in common. "

Mr Suslak - who had been creating an Ayapaneco dictionary - added that "the language is particularly rich" in what he calls, "sound symbolic expressions that often take their inspiration from nature, such as kolo-golo-nay, translated as "to gobble like a turkey".

Ayapaneco, like many other indigenous languages in Mexico, was a victim of the prevalance of Spanish as the lingua franca post colonisation. The name of the language is not native to its speakers, who actually call it Nuumte Oote, which means the True Voice.

According to Unesco, half of more than 6,000 languages all over the world face the imminent threat of extinction.

Learn more at The Straits Times

  Check out Peyote People

  Check out The Huichol Center for Cultural Survival

  Check out Galeria Tanana


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