Mexico is home to 68 indigenous languages spoken, but sadly, 60% of them are endangered and could disappear soon. Learn how to say your name in eight Mexican indigenous languages
On February 21st, the world celebrates International Mother Language Day. Our mother language is the "language that we learned at home, from our parents, grandparents, brothers, or whoever took care of raising us." Although most people's mother language in Mexico is Spanish, there are 68 indigenous languages spread all over the country that are endangered and could disappear very soon. Here we will teach you how to say your name in eight Mexican Languages
There is a double standard in Mexico in terms of indigenous languages. On one hand, they are proudly displayed for the world to see behind a glass in a museum, as a vestigial part of Mexico's ancient past, something exotic that is okay for a linguistics paper, but that, in the real world, is seen as something to avoid and something to despise in a deeply racist country.
The most recent case is very visible due to the success of the movie Roma, where Mixtec is spoken. People have reacted unusually well to the use of an indigenous language, in contrast to the reality lived by the 7.4 million people in Mexico who speak an indigenous language. From the beginning of the 20th century, public policies regarding language were steered toward forcing people to learn and speak Spanish exclusively. This led to acts of discrimination, like children at school being punished if heard speaking a language other than Spanish, forced sterilization of indigenous women, abuse of power, and arbitrary detentions and trials without a translator.
The five most spoken indigenous languages in Mexico are Nahuatl, Maya, Tseltal, Mixtec, and Tsotsil. However, over 60% of Mexico's linguistic diversity is in danger of disappearing.
Contrary to popular belief, the usefulness of said languages doesn't come from having a document that certifies your proficiency, or how helpful it is to get a job, but in the way the people who speak it use it, and how these languages express their way of thinking:
"A language that is alive is useful for those who speak it, and it has value in itself because it represents and expresses what we are, as people," according to INALI (Mexican National Institute For Indigenous Languages). It is useful for the mere fact that it works as a conduit to comprehend the world, think, and communicate.
In Mexico, children who speak an indigenous language have the right to receive education in their own language, the same way that adults have the right to have all public information in their language, to receive attention from any public servant and access to all the protections of the justice system in their own language or through an interpreter and someone who understands their language and culture.
In honor of the great linguistic diversity of Mexico, we bring you these cards to help you learn how to say your name in eight Mexican languages:
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