Mexican Languages

While Spanish is the most widely-spoken language, the government also recognizes 68 Mexican indigenous languages.

While 68 indigenous languages may sound like a lot, 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 7 million speakers of indigenous languages in Mexico. While around 20% of the population identify themselves with an indigenous group, only about 6% speak an indigenous language of Mexico.

Some of the most widely spoken languages in Mexico, aside from Spanish, are Nahuatl, which has more than 1.7 million speakers, Maya, spoken by around 850,000 people, and Mixtec, with more than half a million speakers. 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.