The Last Two Speakers of a Dying Language Aren't Talking To Each Other

The Ayapaneco language is dying - it's down to the last two speakers, and in a twist worthy of a Hollywood treatment (can we say a linguistic "Grumpy Old Men"?) they're not talking to each other!

There are just two people left who can speak it fluently – but they refuse to talk to each other. Manuel Segovia, 75, and Isidro Velazquez, 69, live 500 metres apart in the village of Ayapa in the tropical lowlands of the southern state of Tabasco. It is not clear whether there is a long-buried argument behind their mutual avoidance, but people who know them say they have never really enjoyed each other's company.

"They don't have a lot in common," says Daniel Suslak, a linguistic anthropologist from Indiana University, who is involved with a project to produce a dictionary of Ayapaneco. Segovia, he says, can be "a little prickly" and Velazquez, who is "more stoic," rarely likes to leave his home.

Jo Tuckman has the story in The Guardian: Link (Photo: Jaime Avalos)


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An unused language dies and we care . . ... why? Let every primitive culture pass away, onward to the new age - that's Nature's way. Let every islamic and aboriginal language and culture pass away, we'd all be better off!
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