Last 2 speakers of dying language won’t talk to each other

The last two people fluent in a nearly-extinct language refuse to speak to each other.


The men, Manuel Segovia, 75, and Isidro Velazquez, 69, live close to one another in a village located in south Mexico, but they don’t “really enjoy each other’s company,” according to an article in the London Telegraph.

They speak Ayapaneco, a language used for centuries by the indigenous people of Mexico.

Segovia still uses Ayapaneco to speak to his wife and son, who understand him but can only speak a few words. Velazquez no longer uses the language daily.

”When I was a boy, everybody spoke it,” Segovia said. ”It’s disappeared little by little, and now I suppose it might die with me.”

The article says there are 68 different indigenous languages in Mexico, further subdivided into 364 variations. A handful of other Mexican indigenous languages is also in danger of extinction, though Ayapaneco is the most extreme case.

Segovia and Velazquez call their language Nuumte Oote, which means the True Voice. They speak different versions of this truth and tend to disagree over details, which doesn’t help their relationship, the article says. A dictionary, which is due out later this year, will contain both versions.

22 comments Add your comment


April 15th, 2011
7:35 am

so is english


April 15th, 2011
8:25 am

Well said, Cheech. Well said.

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April 15th, 2011
7:35 pm

Ironic, huh?


April 16th, 2011
1:50 am

This is a very interesting article. It includes historical details that I wasn’t aware of.


April 16th, 2011
8:07 am

Too bad they can’t record a conversation for posterity and National Geographic movie.


April 16th, 2011
8:54 am

@cheech: Really? If English is a “dying language” then why are we all speaking it? BTW “cheech” “English is capitalized, for it is a proper noun. There have been many languages lost to the ages, most people could care less if it doesn’t affect them. These two that speak it are just as vain, they let their egos in the way instead of trying to keep it for history.


April 16th, 2011
11:50 am

Give both of them Marijuana (a lot), …and see what happens…
(don’t forget to keep the cameras rolling)


April 16th, 2011
11:55 am

Cheech is right, according to linguists; our distinctive regional dialects are dying in great part due to television. And American’s word usage is abysmally limited. The bulk of our population navigate through life using only 10% of the 500,000 words in our beautiful language. Where once we waxed eloquent, we now communicate in grunts and sentence fragments. As performance poet and English professor, I mourn the loss.


April 16th, 2011
1:14 pm

I agree wholeheartedly with bohobo. I believe “texting” has taken its toll on the language also. Fragmenting a sentence, using abbreviations, and misspelling words in order to “make them fit” and/or to “save time” also has the bulk (not all) of the new generations’ language, pronunciation, and spelling spiraling downward. (Do not EVEN get me started on proper phone etiquette and customer service relations!) Bohobo, you are not alone. :)


April 16th, 2011
2:38 pm

In court sometimes the interpreter will bring up that a defendant only knows a little bit of Spanish. Then we just talk louder and slower.

All American

April 17th, 2011
12:05 pm

cheech is correct. As illegal aliens take over our country, spanglish is becoming the dominant “language”.


April 17th, 2011
12:34 pm

Don’t forget the impact of Ebonics on our English language. Just aks anyone! They ain’t no need to git down wit da English.

Really a shame. Listen to a teacher (even a ‘Language Arts’ teacher) and you will see what I mean.

charlie brown

April 17th, 2011
1:14 pm

Who cares if a couple of mexican can’t or do not want to talk to each other. There are probably hundreds of local languages world wide that are now extinct.


April 17th, 2011
5:09 pm

@All American+Observer: Languages evolve constantly due to a combination of foreign influences and cultural changes. Modern English is at its root a fusion of Latin, West Germanic dialects, and Old Norse. Your comments betray complete ignorance of historical linguistics, but this is hardly surprising as xenophobes and racists are hardly known for their command of science.

It must really bug you that the word “America” itself comes from the latin name “Americus Vespucius”.


April 17th, 2011
5:56 pm

Sea Dog I seem a bit confused with your understanding of ENGLISH!!! Now you said ” most people could care less” DON’T you really mean they “COULDN’T CARE LESS” !!!!! It seems you have already lost some understanding .. Cheech you are right, try ordering food at a fast food place !!!!!! If they are going to be here then why have the citizenship papers in multi languages not to mention the drivers licenses !!!!! Just my opinion!!!!!


April 17th, 2011
7:10 pm

Holy crap! Seaslut14 sure get’s around with her senile spewing bile. Time to troll WFTV?


April 17th, 2011
7:12 pm

Hey Dan, you are wasting your time trying to have anything close to a “normal” conversation with her (Seaslug). She loves to troll all of the forums when she’s between her medicine.

sharissa monet

April 17th, 2011
9:28 pm

I think cheech has an e e cumming thing going with his lower-case sentence. And, Mr. Dog, “people could care less” means that people do care somewhat and it is actually possible for them to care less than they currently do; “people could not care less” means that people have reached a stage of complete apathy about a subject and it is NOT possible to care less at all. Have a care with what’s left of the language.


April 17th, 2011
11:16 pm

I know most people don’t like to let facts get in the way of their opinions, but get this: According to the latest census, no where near a majority of our population speaks Spanish nor Ebonics, based on the percentage of Hispanic and African American citizens. The kind of hyperbole being demonstrated here indicates a high level of um-er prejudice? xenophobia? linguistic chauvinism perhaps? Now I love the English language and as a matter of fact spend 6 to 8 hours a week as a volunteer, helping immigrants learn to speak and understand it. Might I suggest that those who express such concern for the life of the language could consider doing the same.


April 18th, 2011
11:02 am

English, Spanish, etc. are killing languages more than anything. Just a consequence of modern life and the specialized lingo that goes with it.


April 20th, 2011
11:26 am

Perhaps they should send Ry Cooder in to record the “authentic” language and add his own spin to it, much like he does to indigenous music.