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Row endangers Mexican language


An indigenous language in southern Mexico is in danger of disappearing because its last two speakers have stopped talking to one another.

peopleThe two elderly men in the village of Ayapan, Tabasco, have ‘drifted apart’, said Fernando Nava, head of the Mexican Institute for Indigenous Languages.

He used the example to draw attention to the threat to indigenous languages across Mexico, more than 20 of which are under threat of extinction. Mexico is one of the countries in the world with the richest diversity of languages. More than 350 indigenous languages are spoken within its territory.

The two men are the only fluent speakers of their local version of the “Zoque” language whose tribe is thought to descend from the Olmecas and its members are spread around the south of Mexico. Other languages from the same root are spoken in the Mexican states of Veracruz, Oaxaca and Chiapas.

The Mexican Institute for Indigenous Languages is trying to encourage more local people to speak Ayapan Zoque, and hopes the two men will pass the language on to their families. The language is also being recorded to enable future learning of the language.

According to the UN, one of the world’s languages dies out every two weeks.

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