Speakers of dying language not speaking to each other

The two remaining fluent speakers of Ayapaneco, a language pre-dating modern Mexico, are not speaking to each other. Manuel Segovia, 75, and Isidro Velazquez, 69, who live 500m apart in the village of Ayapa in Tabasco state, are the only two people left speaking the ancient language. They, however, do not wish to speak it to each other. According to Segovia, who spoke Ayapaneco with his brother until his death about 10 years ago, there is no real animosity between him and Velazquez. Other sources say they simply don’t enjoy each other’s company. Segovia has tried to start classes in the language, and speaks it to his wife and son, who understand it but cannot speak it.

Segovia and Velazquez have both been helping to put together a dictionary of Ayapaneco, which has survived the pressure of Spanish until the present day. Unfortunately, they speak slightly different versions of the language, which I’m sure doesn’t help their relationship. Both versions will be available in the dictionary.

While it makes me sad that there is such definite proof of languages dying out, I can’t imagine what it would be like to dislike the only other speaker of your native language. To be put in a room to speak to them just for speaking’s sake would be awful. I’m glad that the language is being documented, and I hope that local classes will be a success in the future.

Source: The Guardian.

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