Residents have reported that in this locality, as in other areas of the state, the Maya language is only practiced by older people, and each day fewer young people show interest in speaking it. In fact, the majority feel ashamed of it and do nothing to preserve it.
A study by INEGI indicated that in the region, 70 percent of Maya speakers are adults, suggesting a problem in transmitting the language to younger generations. Specialists added that if this trend continues, this ancestral language could disappear in less than 100 years.
Francisco Barriga, former director of Linguistics at the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH-Conaculta), warned in a written statement that social mobility in the use of the Maya language is changing drastically, resulting in its decline among its speakers.
The INAH linguist stated in the study that although INEGI’s data shows that Maya reached its highest number of speakers in 50 years, caution must be exercised with the numbers and immediate actions must be taken. The risk of the Maya language disappearing lies in the symptomatic trend of its lack of hereditary transmission. It should be noted that 70 percent of those who currently speak Maya are elderly, while the youth and new generations show no interest in learning and preserving it.
Cesilia Balam Pech, a 70-year-old homemaker, sadly mentioned that in this locality, only grandparents speak the Maya language. She indicated that today’s youth no longer practice it, let alone show interest in learning it. There are even those who are ashamed of their Maya origins.
“Today’s youth have other thoughts; they prefer English and other languages that they don’t learn either. Some want nothing to do with Maya and are even ashamed of their Yucatecan surnames. They only use their Spanish names,” explained the grandmother.
And as these individuals point out, the lack of interest in the language is evident among young people, so it is the responsibility of adults to encourage teenagers to learn the language. If they don’t motivate them to speak the language, it will be their fault if it is lost.