Sixty Languages at Risk of Extinction in Mexico—Can They Be Kept Alive?
Online dictionaries and smartphones may help with preservation, experts say.
Of the 143 native languages in Mexico, 60 are at risk of being silenced forever, linguists say.
One language, Ayapenaco, is spoken fluently by just two elderly men who aren't even on speaking terms. Another indigenous language, Kiliwa, is spoken by only 36 people.
While 60 of Mexico's native tongues are at risk, 21 are critically endangered, with only a few elderly speakers left, according to a statement released recently by Mexico's Centre of Research and Higher Studies in Social Anthropology (CIESAS). (Read about vanishing languages in National Geographic magazine.)
The languages most at risk in Mexico—including the Zapotec, the Chatino, and the Seri tongues—are undergoing "rapid change" for a number of reasons, says Lourdes de León Pasquel,