Archive for the ‘Otomi’ Category

Not all Mexican immigrants in the US speak Spanish

28 May 2011

A story about emigrants from Mexico and other Latin American countries in the US who do not speak Spanish or English is in many newspapers online, such as the article “Some NY immigrants cite lack of Spanish as barrier” on the Seattle PI website.

One man cited tells of facing mockery from fellow Mexicans for his inability to speak Spanish. To combat this, many Latin American emigrants are attending Spanish classes. A number of languages are cited in the article, most of which refer to language families. They include:

  • Mixtec languages (family), a family of 52 languages spoken in Mexico included in the MIxtecan,
  • Trique languages (family), a group of three languages spoken in Mexico also included in the Mixtecan family,
  • Chinantecan languages (family), a group of 14 languages spoken in Mexico included in the Oto-Manguean family,
  • Otomi languages (family), a group of 11 languages spoken in Mexico also included in the Oto-Manguean family,
  • Nahuatl languages (Aztec family), a group of 28 languages spoken in Mexico
  • Quechua languages (Quechuan family), a group of 46 languages spoken in Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia and Peru, and
  • Garifuna (cab), a language spoken in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

As this list makes apparent, Mexico is a hotbed of languages, and is one of the world’s language hotspots with 238 languages.

The story is also available in Spanish. See “Indígenas latinoamericanos doblemente marginados en EEUU” on (the) El Nuevo Herald website.

Amate paper and Otomí

20 May 2011

The State of Puebla is located in East-Central Mexico. There and in nearby states, the Otomí family of languages is spoken by about 240,000 people according to Wikipedia.

One of the cultural features of Puebla is the traditional craft of making tree bark paper, known as amate (fig) as one of the trees used is the fig tree. Amate has been produced in Mexico for at least 1100 years, and perhaps much longer. Amate was for writing by such peoples as the Maya and the Aztecs, and possibly the Olmecs, and is also used for creating ritual figures known as dahi.

The town of San Pablito is one of the few towns that has maintained the amate production custom. Until the 1960s, only shamans produced it in San Pablito, keeping the process a secret. To learn more about amate, see “Mexican Indigenous Textiles: Otomi of Tenango de Doria Hidalgo.”

In San Pablito, the Otomí language spoken is Tenango Otomi (otn). In September 1996, a video was uploaded to titled “Mexico’s indigenous languages – Otomi of the Sierra of Hidalgo.” The video shows a man providing translations of a few Spanish expressions in Otomí, with subtitles in English.

It appears that an Otomí version of Wikipedia is in the works. A test version can be see on the Incubator at Wp/ote/Ndänxi.

The page has other videos, including one similar to the Otomí titled “Chatino Indian language from Oaxaca Mexico.” The Chatino languages (family) are spoken by 38,000 people in Mexico according to the Ethnologue.

Immersion Schools and Identity

11 March 2011

Two references on immersion schools, one from last fall and the other from 2008.

The Heritage Language Journal‘s fall 2010 edition has a special theme of identity. The articles are available free of charge online. Of the articles, at least two bear directly on endangered languages:

The other is “Can Schools Save Indigenous Languages?Policy and Practice on Four Continents,” edited by Nancy H. Hornberger. Published in hardback in 2008 and paperback last fall, this book looks at four cases of language revitalization around the world. Coverage includes of the communities where Māori (mri), Sámi (family), Hñähñö or Otomi (family), and various Latin American languages are spoken.

The book can be purchased from Palgrave for GBP 55.00 hardback or 19.99 paperback, and from Macmillan for USD 85.00 hardback. The book is reviewed in volume 31, issue 2 of “Applied Linguistics.” An excerpt of the review is available on their site, or the article can be accessed for one day for USD 25.

Table of Contents from the Macmillan page:

  • Introduction— by N.H. Hornberger
  • Out on the fells, I feel like a Sámi – Is There Linguistic and Cultural Quality in the Sámi School? — by V. Hirvonen
  • Different or Equal? Policy and Indigenous Perspectives on Bilingual Intercultural Education in Latin America — by L.E. Lopez
  • Maori-Medium Education in Aotearoa/New Zealand: Current Issues and Challenges — by S. May & R. Hill
  • Learning with Differences: Strengthening Hñähñö and Bilingual Teaching in an Elementary School in Mexico — by N.R. Recendiz
  • Commentary from a Saami and International Perspective — by L. Huss
  • Commentary from an African and International Perspective — by N.M. Kamwangamalu
  • Commentary from a Native American and International Perspective — by T.L. McCarty
  • Conclusion: Commentary from a Maori and International Perspective — by B. Spolsky

This blog entry inspired by Indigenous School Based Projects, an article by Gina Putt on that highlights five programs.