WWW: Enduring Voices of Latin America

enduring voicesEnduring Voices is a National Geographic expedition of linguists and photographers whose mission is to document the world’s endangered and/or disappearing languages.  As we all know well, regions throughout Latin America are “hotspots” for indigenous languages, spoken since before the time of European arrival, preserved and often modernized throughout the colonial and postcolonial periods, despite intense cultural, political and economic pressures to learn Spanish, Portuguese or English.  This is a beautiful site to explore, with a ton of information about each language and a page design that is very easy to navigate.

In the photos and videos section, you can see several photo galleries including a couple of languages on our list.  Under ‘talking dictionaries’, there are audio clips for students to hear the languages aloud and see photos related to the words’ meanings.   If the students have access to a computer, or the teacher can lead them on one, here is an activity you can have the students do, or pieces of it can be explored as a class group:

Students choose or are appointed to be the class expert on one of the languages on the following list, either as individuals or as groups.  The students first have to figure out (1) which geographical region their language pertains to, and (2) what is the name of the people who speak their language (answers listed next to each language on the list).  Finally, the class can browse through each language on the Talking Dictionary and listen to native speakers actually speaking certain words.   If a student asks why there is a language included from the Northwest U.S. if this is a list of Latin American languages, that is a great opportunity to explain that at one time the northwest region was near Spanish as well as French territory, and that languages such as Siletz Dee-Ni are related to languages such as Navajo, and other groups of native languages spoken within colonial New Spain.

  • Chamacoco
  • Siletz Dee-Ni
    • Northwest U.S. – Siletz Tribes (Siletz Reservation, Lincoln County, Oregon)
  • Mam
    • Guatemala/Mexico (dictionary photos) – Mayan People (Quetzaltenango, Guatemala)
  • Tsesungun
  • Nasa Yuwe
    • Colombia (dictionary photos) – Paez People (Popayán, Cauca Department)
  • Miahuatec Zapotec
    • Mexico – Southern Sierra Zapotec (Miahuatlán, Oaxaca)
  • Yanesha
    • Peru – Amuesha People (Pasco Region)

Find Your Language’s Regions on the Language Map

  • Mesoamerica (238 total languages) … Mam; Zapotec
  • Northern South America (126 total languages) … Nasa Yuwe
  • Central South America (113 total languages) … Yanesha
  • Southern South America (48 total languages) … Chamacoco; Tsesungun
  • Pacific northwest plateau (54 total languages) … Siletz Dee-Ni

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