Most Mexicans are fluent in Spanish and learn English as a second language, though there are many other indigenous languages. The Law of Linguistic Rights recognizes 68 Mexican indigenous languages and there are more than 130 indigenous languages. The government has made efforts to keep the customs and culture of these languages, so that they do not fade away. For instance, even though Spanish is the dominant language, it is not spelled out as the official language in Mexican law. This is to grant more rights for people to use indigenous languages in official documents. At the regional level, Mexicans speak Spanish and English throughout Mexico. In eastern Mexico, Otomi and Totonac are the official languages. In central Mexico, Nahuatl is the official language while people from southeastern Mexico speak Mayan languages.

Spanish is the most widely spoken language in Mexico. About 95% of the population speaks the language. Over 6 million people speak indigenous languages, with about 10-14% of the people classified as an indigenous group. English is common in business settings and is also used by US retirees living in Guanajuato in Chiapas. About 1.2% of people do not speak Spanish at all, and around 7.1% of the people are either monolingual, or they speak several indigenous languages.

Mexican Spanish is different from European Spanish. However, written and daily communication is not widely different. All the same, the vernacular language and dialects of each region are different. Further, the Mexican vocabulary is more old-fashion than the continental European language. A distinct characteristic of Mexican Spanish is the significant difference in the accent compared to the European Spanish.

Mexico is home to a variety of indigenous languages. There are over 45 groups of indigenous languages, which in turn have 364 dialects. The primary indigenous language is Nahuatl which belongs to the Uto-Aztecan family. About 1.3 million people speak Nahuatl. Interestingly, words such as avocado, chocolate, coyote, tomato, and tequila originated from Nahuatl. Besides, there are about four minority groups which include the Catalan, Plautdietsch, and Chipilo Venetian dialects. According to the National Institute of Indigenous Languages, 259 languages are in grave danger of extinction due to the languages having fewer than one hundred speakers. One such example is the Ayapaneco language, which is one of the most endangered languages in Mexico. The language is also known as Nnumte Oote. Other minority languages are the Yucatan Sign Language, Mexican Sign Language, and American Sign Language.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018

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