Sesenta y Ocho Voces.

Another great language-preservation initiative, from Mexico, as reported by Andrew S. Vargas for Remezcla:

Sesenta y Ocho Voces, Sesenta y Ocho Corazones (also known as 68 voces), is a new initiative from Mexico’s government Fund for The Culture and Arts (FONCA) that seeks to elevate Mexico’s 68 indigenous languages by preserving their myths, legends, poems, and stories in the form of beautifully animated short films. Their goal is to foment pride amongst speakers of these languages, and respect among those who don’t, under premise that “nadie puede amar lo que no conoce” (no one can love what they don’t know.)

There are currently seven of these short animated films available, covering dialects of the Huasteco, Maya, Mixteco, Náhuatl, Totonaco, Yaqui and Zapoteco languages. Ranging from two to three minutes, each film employs a different designer to give powerful expression the wisdom contained in these indigenous languages. From reflections on life and death, to vividly recounted myths of the ancient times, these films give Mexico’s indigenous languages their due place amongst the great treasures of human civilization. Check them out below (for English translations, look on their Vimeo page.)

An update says they’ve added videos in Mayo, Ch’ol, Tseltal, and Ayapaneco. Thanks, Trevor!

Comments

  1. Everyone here probably remembers the sensational story according to which a quarrel between last two speakers of Ayapaneco – Manuel Segovia, 78, and Isidro Velazquez, 72 – threatened the survival of this endangered language.

    Well, credits for Ayapaneco version for “Sesenta y Ocho Voces, Sesenta y Ocho Corazones” list:

    Créditos
    Locución Manuel Segovia Segovia
    Traducción Manuel Segovia Segovia / Cirilo Velázquez Méndez / Ysidro Velázquez Méndez / Asunción Segovia Hernández Manuel Segovia Jiménez / José Manuel Segovia Velázquez

    Are the old gentlemen speaking to each other again?

  2. So it would appear! Thanks for remembering that tidbit.

  3. marie-lucie says:

    SFR, it looks like a number of people (including Segovia) were involved in translating (and probably transcribing) recordings by Segovia, the oldest man. Some of the names, especially that of the last identified translator, suggest that there has been some intermarrying between the Segovia and Velázquez families (not unexpected in a small community). But the enmity between the two elders might still exist while their grandchildren take no part in it.

  4. Alon Lischinsky says:

    @SFReader:

    Are the old gentlemen speaking to each other again?

    It seems that the whole story about the quarrel was made up in the first place.

  5. David Marjanović says:

    Gah. Vodafone.

  6. -Some locals still believe that Manuel invented Ayapaneco in order to sell it to gullible foreigners.

    That’s the best part of the article. How did I miss this on first reading!

  7. marie-lucie says:

    Some locals still believe that Manuel invented Ayapaneco in order to sell it to gullible foreigners.

    This sentence comes almost at the end of this longish article. I had not picked it up on first reading either when the article was first posted. Some of those people, themselves ignorant of the language, must be very jealous of the fame and success of Don Manuel.

    People who think others are making up languages, or those who attempt to do so without any idea of linguistics, grossly underestimate the difficulties of the task!

  8. I wonder how many linguists have actually invented new languages to cover up misuse of fieldwork grant money.

    Krippendorf’s Tribe, anyone?

  9. I doubt such language-forgery has ever been done, though I have heard it said that if anyone were to do it, Bernard Comrie would be the obvious candidate. Even the Tasaday, though much about them may have been falsified, genuinely did speak their language, which split off from its relatives about 200 years BP.

  10. Trond Engen says:

    There was a story of two late 19th century French students who published a forged grammar of … some language in Louisiana or Mississippi, let me see … Taensa.

  11. Excellent find!

  12. Trond Engen says:

    Thanks. But it’s not my find. I was made aware of it in some recent discussion, probably right here. But I also remembered uncharacteristically much of it. I think I must have reread it in passing on New Years Eve, when browsing through Wikipedia pages on languages related to the Mississippi Culture.

  13. Kukurá, another fraud. But both of these were petty things, easily detected. Comriese would be either a totally convincing isolate or a totally convincing divergent dialect of some known language, spoken only at the upper end of some obscure valley in the Caucasus, or perhaps in the interior of New Guinea.

  14. Well, easily detected if you take the trouble to visit that particular Brazilian backwater, which is not quite as easy as a trip to the corner store.

  15. It would be probably enough just to exaggerate slightly already existing differences in a particular dialect and claim it’s a really different language which speakers of other dialects don’t understand.

    Really high class – instead of inventing or exaggerating data – just use the same data as it is and make the claim nevertheless.* Who is going to check?

    Everybody is so busy these days they would just take an expert linguist’s opinion who actually studied the language for granted.

    * I got an impression that this is how linguistic fieldwork is being done nowadays from Janhunen’s book on Mongolic languages. Khamnigan Mongol, which he claimed was a totally different language, supposedly the most conservative Mongolic language in existence, from his own data and glosses looks to me like a dialect of Khalkha Mongolian (and not particularly divergent at that) with a slight Buryat interference.

  16. if you take the trouble to visit

    Cross-checking with what is already known to be known, in Chip Delany’s phrase, probably would have been sufficient.

  17. David Marjanović says:

    Wikipedia has a surprisingly long article on spurious languages and dubious languages.

    from his own data and glosses looks to me like a dialect of Khalkha Mongolian (and not particularly divergent at that) with a slight Buryat interference

    Does this necessarily contradict having particularly conservative features?

  18. January First-of-May says:

    It would be probably enough just to exaggerate slightly already existing differences in a particular dialect and claim it’s a really different language which speakers of other dialects don’t understand.

    Isn’t this pretty much how the Siberian Wikipedia was created?

  19. David Marjanović says:

    Pretty much, though that guy never claimed lack of mutual intelligibility as far as I’m aware.

  20. On Khamnigan: This article (in Russian – link is to the abstract, scroll down for the PDF) tries to group the Mongolian languages based on lexicostatistics. Measured on retention of basic lexicon (ca. 82-85%), Khamnigan is relatively far from the oldest Mongolian sources (the Middle Mongolian texts) compared to Khalkha (91-93%); the most conservative dialects have an agreement with Middle Mongolian of up to 98%.
    So on lexicon, it doesn’t look especially archaic, but that doesn’t say anything about phonology or morphology.

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