Pavel J. Lopez

Linguistic Rights and Policy in Multilingual Mexico

Throughout the history of modern and post-conquest Mexico, people of indigenous heritage have been marginalized for speaking their native languages. Presently, the indigenous language count of Mexico includes eleven language families which yield sixty-eight languages total. After national legislation passed in 2003, all of these indigenous languages gained national language status, making them equally as valid as Spanish anywhere in the Mexican territory. This law also created the National Institute for Indigenous Languages (INALI) to oversee all linguistic matters in the nation. The work of the Institute, based in Mexico City, includes researching the languages, maintaining statistics on speakers and demographics, publishing writing norms, decreeing new alphabets, and creating language learning materials. My internship at INALI this summer included two field expeditions Querétaro, Querétaro and Toluca, Estado de Mexico to witness the creation of the Chichimeco and Mazahua alphabets. Using field notes and some of INALI’s published works, this presentation will give an overview of the linguistic anthropological work that I witnessed in progress and how this connects to the greater goal of preserving pre-Hispanic languages.