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Language translation: 64 Mexican dialects at high risk of extinction

Manuel Segovia still speaks Ayapaneco to his wife and daughter, who understand him but speak only a few words themselves. Photograph: Jaime Avalos/EPA, www.guardian.co.ukWith less than 100 speakers of each left, Mexico’s National Institute of Indian Languages is warning that sixty-four of the country’s 364 Indian dialects are at “high risk” of dying out.

Javier Lopez Sanchez, who heads up the Mexican National Institute of Indian Languages, told the Mexican Newspaper Informador that of the 364 indigenous Indian dialects in Mexico, which are versions of the country's 68 indigenous languages, 64 could indeed eventually perish.

In many cases, according to Lopez Sanchez, speakers of disappearing dialects are dispersed and no longer live in a single community.

Many parents aren't passing their languages on to their children, and in communities in Mexico's north, Indian children may have a passive understanding of their parent's language but are unwilling or unable to speak it, he explained.

"There are entire communities where the children don't speak their indigenous language," Lopez Sanchez told the Associated Press.

Expert Francisco Barriga said one problem undermining Indian languages is that media and Internet favor Spanish, Mexico's dominant national language.

"Children ... turn on the television, go to school, they try to integrate themselves, and Spanish is omni-present," Barriga said. "The key issue is to make Indian languages present in the media."

Click on the interactive map on www.endangeredlanguages.com to explore more about endangered and dying languages around the world.

By Alex Dupont
Marketing Communications Specialist
Language Translation Inc.

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Manuel Segovia still speaks Ayapaneco to his wife and daughter, who understand him but speak only a few words themselves. Photograph: Jaime Avalos/EPA, www.guardian.co.uk

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Meet the Authors

Brian Gruters

In addition to writing blogs for us, Brian Gruters manages translation projects for corporate clients. He started with Language Translation in 2015.

Brian brings several years of experience as a Spanish to English translator to his work. He has a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from the University of Arizona and a master’s in Environment and Resource Studies from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.

As a writer, Brian is mostly interested in language, science, and environmental conservation issues. He writes for various publications, as well as his blog, briangruters.com.

Jennifer Bustance

Jennifer Bustance is a California-based freelance writer, playwright, and novelist originally from Troy, Michigan. Her plays have been performed all over the country, and her prose has appeared in various online and print publications.

Jennifer is a teaching artist with the Playwrights Project, San Diego Writers, Ink, and UCSD Extension. She is the Playwright in Residence at the Scripps Ranch Theatre and a founding member of their New Works Studio. She has a Master of Fine Arts degree from Columbia University and a BA from Sarah Lawrence College.

Chris Maroulakos

Chris Maroulakos has worked at Language Translation since 2007, and he is currently the director of operations. He has been a blogger and managing editor for the San Diego music blog Owl and Bear since 2008, and he also worked as a blogger and associate editor for NBC San Diego's SoundDiego music blog.

Chris holds certifications in SDL Trados Studio for Translators (Advanced Level), SDL Trados Studio for Project Managers, and SDL MultiTerm for Translators and Project Managers. He is Inbound Certified by HubSpot and also has certifications in Localization and Localization Project Management from California State University Chico, the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA), and the Localization Institute.

He graduated from The Pennsylvania State University with a BA in Communications and with minors in Italian and International Studies.