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Language nears extinction as last two speakers refuse to speak to each other.


Most of the world’s estimated 6700 languages are spoken by less than 1000 people.  It appears as if one language is spoken by exactly two; just a couple linguistically-anomalous old men dead-set on taking a small piece of anthropology with them to the grave.

News.com.au: THE last two speakers of an indigenous Mexican language at risk of dying out refuse to talk to each other despite living just 500 yards apart, The Guardian newspaper reported today.

Manuel Segovia, 75, and Isidro Velazquez, 69, from the village of Ayapa in the southern Mexican state of Tabasco, are the last two remaining speakers of Ayapaneco, one of almost 70 indigenous languages in Mexico.

If I could slightly modify a line from rap sensation Kanye West: No two men should have all that power. If we allow these two to erase their beloved Ayapanecan language, others may follow suit, endangering the spoken word as we know it. Why can’t these two come together and record their knowledge?

“They don’t have a lot in common,” Daniel Suslak, a linguistic anthropologist from Indiana University who is working to produce an Ayapaneco dictionary, said.

Manuel and Isidro are in a group with two members, in a world of over 6 billion people, but I’ll take Suslak at his word on this one.

Should we allow this endangered language to die off, or should we water-board these two until they start pouring out the alphabet and basic grammatical structure?