Home Feature 30,000 Maya speakers have disappeared in the last ten years

30,000 Maya speakers have disappeared in the last ten years

by Yucatan Times
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In the framework of the International Mother Language Day, specialists agree that Mayan is at “medium risk of disappearing”, since in the last 10 years about 30 thousand Mayan speakers have disappeared, researchers and officials propose its teaching from elementary school.

Currently, Yucatan is in third place nationally with the highest number of people who speak an indigenous language, being Maya the second most used in the country; however, shame and modern life generated a decrease of six percentage points in a decade, even some specialists consider that the Maya language is in “medium risk of disappearance”.

Erick Villanueva Mukul, director of the Institute for the Development of Maya Culture of the State Government (Indemaya), stated that children have the virtue of becoming polyglots at a young age, so they can be taught to speak Spanish, Maya and English from elementary school.

He emphasized that the state has a bilingual teaching base of 1,800 teachers, so Yucatan has a good number of teachers who teach the native language. It is even an example in comparison with other states.

He indicated that currently 25 percent of the population speaks Mayan, that is to say, there are close to 500,000 people who are bilingual or have it as their native language.

He acknowledged that according to the 2020 population census of the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi), the number of Mayan speakers decreased 5.9 percent with respect to the last decade.

He considered that the decrease in the number of speakers of this native language is a consequence of the bombardment of languages in social networks, as well as old ways of thinking, when Mayan was prevented from being spoken.

He highlighted the importance of taking advantage of the fact that children have Maya as their mother tongue, as well as the options available to promote its teaching as a second language.

He recalled that the previous legislature established that the teaching of the Mayan language would be mandatory at the basic level, but the State Government proposed the teaching of English in pre-school, primary and secondary schools.

Scientific studies show that minors can learn three languages simultaneously, so at a young age they would be polyglots. “If they learn Mayan and English, children’s brains are not clogged; on the contrary, they generate greater neurological development,” he stressed.

He affirmed that Yucatecans should be defenders of the Mayan language, but unfortunately it is restricted when we do not use it.

TYT Newsroom

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