The last two speakers of Ayapaneco

Saying that the language Ayapaneco or Zoque de Ayapa or alsoNuumte Oote would be at the risk of dying out would be an outright understatement. Currectly, the language of the Mixe-Zoque family is only spoken by two natural speakers: Manuel Segovia, 75, and Isidro Velazquez, 69. While this means, that it onviously could be still cultivated, there is just one problem: Segovia and Velazquez don’t want to talk to each other!

This refusal is not a matter of distance or migration, even though those were part of the constant decline in the usage of the language. The both speakers only live 500 meters apart from each other in the village of Ayapa in southern Tabasco. Apparently an old argument and a general lack of sympathy to each other keeps them from talking.

Manuel Segovia

There are two parties however, who want to change that. The first would be Daniel Suslak from the American Indian Studies Research Institute. He tries to write a dictionary of Ayapaneco with the help of Segovia and Velazquez. What makes matters harder is, that both speakers vary in many details. The other party trying to help is the National Indigenous Language Institute. The efforts for the language revitalisation come in form of classes that are organized to teach the language. The teachers would be – speratly from each other, needless to say – Segovia and Velazquez. There have been several attempts to do this. They were cancelled however due to a lack of funding and of enthusiasm on the side of the pupils.

I certainly hope, they will be succesful this time.

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