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Mexican Languages

There are a great number of languages in Mexico, and while Spanish is the most widely-spoken language, the government also recognizes 68 Mexican indigenous languages.
While 68 indigenous languages may seem like a large number, in fact over 130 indigenous languages, along with their unique customs and culture, have vanished. As such, the government has placed a heavy emphasis on the preservation and promotion of the native languages. The Law of Linguistic Rights was created in 2002 to protect the native Mexican languages and encourage bilingual and intercultural education.

The 1917 constitution that was drawn up after the Revolution also had a strong focus on preserving the languages of Mexico and the country’s multicultural identity. The constitution stated that every indigenous group had the right to protect and enrich their own Mexican language. Nowadays, there are over 6 million speakers of indigenous languages in Mexico. While 10-14% of the population identify themselves with an indigenous group, only 6% of them speak an indigenous language of Mexico.

Some of the most widely spoken languages in Mexico, aside from Spanish, are Nahuatl, which has almost 1.4 million speakers, Yucatec Maya, spoken by over three quarters of a million people, and Mixtec, whose speakers amount to about half a million. Interestingly, while Spanish is the dominant language in Mexico, it is not defined as the official language in Mexican legislation.

This allows for more rights to be given to the remainder of Mexico’s languages, including the right to use indigenous languages in governmental communication and official documents.