Language translation: 64 Mexican dialects at high risk of extinction

With less than 100 speakers of each left, Mexico’s National Institute of Indian Languages is warning that sixty-four of the country’s 364 Indian dialects are at “high risk” of dying out.

Javier Lopez Sanchez, who heads up the Mexican National Institute of Indian Languages, told the Mexican Newspaper Informador that of the 364 indigenous Indian dialects in Mexico, which are versions of the country’s 68 indigenous languages, 64 could indeed eventually perish.

In many cases, according to Lopez Sanchez, speakers of disappearing dialects are dispersed and no longer live in a single community.

Many parents aren’t passing their languages on to their children, and in communities in Mexico’s north, Indian children may have a passive understanding of their parent’s language but are unwilling or unable to speak it, he explained.

“There are entire communities where the children don’t speak their indigenous language,” Lopez Sanchez told the Associated Press.

Expert Francisco Barriga said one problem undermining Indian languages is that media and Internet favor Spanish, Mexico’s dominant national language.

“Children … turn on the television, go to school, they try to integrate themselves, and Spanish is omni-present,” Barriga said. “The key issue is to make Indian languages present in the media.”

Click on the interactive map on to explore more about endangered and dying languages around the world.

By Alex Dupont
Marketing Communications Specialist
Language Translation Inc.

See Also

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  • More about language and culture – read our blog
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  • Mexico: 64 indigenous dialects at ‘high risk’ of disappearing
    Scores of indigenous dialects in Mexico are at ‘high risk’ of disappearing, the head of the country’s National Institute of Indigenous Languages has warned.

Manuel Segovia still speaks Ayapaneco to his wife and daughter, who understand him but speak only a few words themselves.


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