Ayapaneco is a language that has been spoken in Mexico for hundreds of years, but it’s now in danger of becoming extinct as the last two speakers refuse to to talk to each other.
After surviving the Spanish invasion, numerous natural disasters and famine, the old language of Ayapaneco could soon become only a memory as the last two remaining speakers grow old, and seeing there aren’t any young Mexicans eager to learn a dying tongue. 75-year-old Manuel Segovia and 69-year-old Isidro Velazquez live only 500 meters apart in the village of Ayapa, but the don’t get a long very well. Some of the locals say it’s because of an old feud, but most of them think it’s just because they don’t have very much in common. Velazquez is a little irritable, while Segovia is more stoic and doesn’t get out of the house much.
Manuel Segovia, who claims he has no animosity towards his neighbor, used to speak in Ayapaneco with his late brother, who passed away about 10 years ago, and now uses it with his wife and son, who can understand him but can only speak a few words themselves. Together with the National Indigenous Language Institute, he has tried to hold classes for young people willing to learn Ayapaneco. He even bought notebooks and pencils himself, but even though the classes started out full, pupils would just stop coming.
Photo by Jaime Avalos/EPA
Now Daniel Suslak, a linguistic anthropologist from Indiana University, is racing against time and trying to create an Ayapaneco dictionary by gathering various words and expressions used by Segovia and Velazquez.
I knew Mexico’s indigenous people were proud and a bit stubborn, but this seems a little too much…