The Tale of One Tiny Songbird Is Amplifying an Ancient Mayan Language

Maria de Los Angeles Azuara couldn’t hold back tears when she heard two dozen children singing at a small school in the Mexican state of Chiapas. Guided by their music teacher, the elementary students performed a song they’d adapted about a new friend, a young Golden-cheeked Warbler named Chipilo who lived in the same mountains [...]

By |2020-11-13T13:42:45+00:00November 13th, 2020|Mayan language, Mexico|0 Comments

Students Assist with Mayan Language Revitalization Project

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – “Saqarik!” (sah-kah-REEK!) “Good morning!” So began presentations to grade schoolers in Nahualá, Guatemala, given by four Middlebury students as part of a Mayan language revitalization project this past January. The project was led by Associate Professor of Luso-Hispanic Studies Brandon Baird. “The school kids would always laugh when they heard us speak [...]

By |2020-05-24T13:33:47+00:00May 24th, 2020|Language revitalization, Mayan language, Mexico|0 Comments

In Milpa Alta, people still speak the Aztec language

In the 1970s, before workers laid the asphalt that became a two-lane highway connecting Mexico City with Milpa Alta, the southernmost of the city’s 16 delegations, Javier Galicia-Silva’s grandmother would hike down the hills to Xochimilco each day at 04:00. From here she would take a chalupa (a large water taxi) along the ancient canals [...]

By |2020-05-06T11:45:05+00:00May 6th, 2020|Language, Mexico, Nahuatl language|0 Comments

Indigenous Women Are Publishing the First Maya Works in Over 400 Years

I’D STUMBLED UPON TALLER LEÑATEROS—the “Woodlanders Workshop”—completely by chance. I was walking aimlessly through the pastel-hued streets of San Cristobal de las Casas, trying to get a feel for what my guidebook had described as southern Mexico’s “most beautiful colonial city.” One particular street was quiet, dusty, and less colorful than the rest. But there [...]

By |2019-08-21T16:18:18+00:00August 21st, 2019|Indigenous languages, Mayan script, Mexico|0 Comments

The confusing way Mexicans tell time

When I first stepped foot on Mexican soil, I spoke relatively good Spanish. I was by no means fluent, but I could hold a conversation. So when I asked a local ice-cream seller in downtown Guadalajara when he expected a new delivery of chocolate ice cream, and he said ‘ahorita’, which directly translates to ‘right [...]

By |2019-04-30T10:15:05+00:00April 30th, 2019|Language, Mexico, Spanish language|0 Comments

What is killing Mexico’s rich indigenous languages?

“I speak the sounds of the people of the rain” – If you ask the Mixteco people about their first language, the reply is just one example of Mexico’s rich linguistic diversity. Yet linguists, artists and human rights defenders are warning that Mexico is becoming increasingly monotone – and that discrimination, as well as repressive [...]

By |2018-11-02T12:31:58+00:00November 2nd, 2018|Indigenous languages, Mexico|0 Comments

The Mexican art of double entendre

As a Brit living in Mexico, I’ve discovered that many people are intrigued by whether or not I eat spicy food. I once had an entire conversation with a waiter in which he asked me where I was from, what language I spoke, where exactly England was, and finally ended with the question he was [...]

By |2018-08-24T01:14:11+00:00August 24th, 2018|Double entendre, Language, Mexico, Spanish language|0 Comments

The decline of Chinantec whistled speech in Mexico

The small village of San Pedro Sochiapam, deep in the mountainous region of the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, is home to the Chinantec people. Here steep footpaths end at chicken coops and cornfields grow on mountainsides, while the villagers clear brush with machetes and children enjoy ice-cream cones from a stall near the town [...]

By |2018-03-26T14:08:50+00:00March 26th, 2018|Language, Mexico, Whistled languages|0 Comments

Mexican women lead initiatives to rescue native tongues

When Gabriela Badillo traveled to Mérida, Yucatán, more than a decade ago, she encountered children who were timid about speaking the Mayan language. As she later came to understand, fear and discrimination were factors that affected the home teaching and use of the region’s native tongue. “Children were a bit embarrassed to speak Mayan. ... [...]

By |2018-02-22T00:21:56+00:00June 22nd, 2017|Indigenous languages, Language, Mexico|0 Comments

UCLA historian brings language of the Aztecs from ancient to contemporary times

The language of the Aztecs, Nahuatl, is undergoing a renaissance in Los Angeles, thanks in part to the efforts of a genial UCLA historian. Once the lingua franca of Mexico, Nahuatl [pronounced na’ wat] was eventually overtaken by Spanish. Today, the indigenous language is spoken only by 1.5 million people in Mexico, many of whom [...]

By |2017-06-16T12:58:21+00:00June 16th, 2017|Aztecs, Mexico, Nahuatl language|0 Comments