Sunday, February 24, 2008

NAT: Ixcateco

Last ditch effort to save dying language
ITN - Monday, February 25 07:05 am

The race is on in Mexico to save an indigenous language from extinction.

There are now just eight people, all aged over sixty, who still speak Ixcateco.

They live in the town of Santa Maria Ixcatlan in Oaxaca, populated mainly by agriculture workers and arts and crafts palm weavers.

Many, including linguists, are worried that it won't be long before their rare language is never heard again.

Two local men in their seventies are attempting to pass their mother tongue on, but younger people don't want to learn because they associate indigenous languages with economic and social backwardness.

An American linguist, from the Benito Juarez Autonomous University of Oaxaca, has now teamed up with the pair in order to document the language and store his findings at the University in order to teach future generations.

According to the United Nations organisation Unesco more than 50 per cent of the world's 6,000 languages are in danger of disappearing over the next "few generations."

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