Last 2 Speakers of Dying Language Not Talking

Mexico's Ayapaneco language on last legs
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 14, 2011 3:20 AM CDT
Updated Apr 16, 2011 1:05 PM CDT
Last 2 Speakers of Dying Language Not Talking
Manuel Segovia, 75, is one of the last two Ayapaneco speakers alive.   (Wikipedia)

(Newser) – The centuries-old Mexican Ayapaneco language isn't quite dead yet—but there may never be another conversation in it. There are only two people left alive who speak it fluently, and they don't want to have anything to do with each other, reports the Guardian. Apart from the language, the two elderly men "don't have a lot in common," says an American anthropologist trying to compile a dictionary of the language before it's too late. The two last speakers of Ayapaneco live a few hundred yards apart in the same village.

One man is "a little prickly" and the other is "more stoic" and rarely leaves his home, the anthropologist says, noting that their relationship hasn't been helped by disagreements over details of the language, which is particularly rich in symbolic expressions. The language went into decline last century amid urbanization, migration, and government efforts to promote Spanish. Efforts to hold classes in which the men can pass their knowledge on have failed. "I bought pencils and notebooks myself," one of the men complains. "The classes would start off full and then the pupils would stop coming." (Read more language stories.)

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