Published February 14, 2020
This video was recorded by Daniel Bögre Udell in Cusco, Peru, where he and Evan met at the Regional Congress of Indigenous Languages for Latin America and the Caribbean. Otomi Mezquital, or Otomi del Valle del Mezquital, called by the people of Mezquital Valley "Hñähñú", is one of a large number of Otomi languages forming a diverse continuum, many of which are not mutually intelligible. Ethnologue considers there to be nine separate Otomi languages, and Glottolog lists seven. As a Northwestern Otomi language, Otomi Mezquital is characterized by an innovative phonology and grammar compared to the more conservative Eastern varieties. Alongside many other indigenous languages, Otomi speakers transitioned to Spanish particularly in the 20th century, experiencing large scale speaker loss. Nevertheless, under the Mexican government's adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1996, the Otomi languages expanded their sphere of influence into the public domain, and were granted the official status of "national languages." While Otomi languages on the whole are in decline, Otomi Mezquital is among the most vigorous of Otomi varieties, with healthy transmission to younger generations. Otomi Mezquital is spoken by around 100,000 people in Mexico as of a 1990 census. It is an Oto-Pamean language within the Otomanguean language family.