Few people in the world speak Ayapaneco- only two people in fact. And those two people, well, they don’t speak to each other.
According to the Guardian, there are only remaining speakers of Ayapaneco, an indigenous language that has been spoken in Mexico for centuries. Though it is not exactly clear why they do not speak, Manuel Segovia, 75, and Isidro Velazquez, 69, live less than one mile apart.
People who know the two say that they have never really enjoyed each other’s company. There is no way to tell if their refusal to speak to each other stems from an actual disagreement, though neither of them would say much about the other.
Daniel Suslak, a linguistic anthropologist from Indiana University, is hoping to collect a dictionary of the Ayapaneco language. From his interviews, he says Segovia can be “a little prickly” and Velazquez is “more stoic,” rarely likes to leave his home.
Suslak says the two last speakers “don’t have a lot in common.”
Reading through their story, I was sad for both these two men. They are literally the last two people on earth who can understand their language, a major mean of expression and yet they refuse to travel one mile to have a conversation.
They may be older men living in Mexico’s tropical lowlands, but the last speakers hold in their silence a lesson for us all. So often, I see women of color who have walls of muteness between them. They see each other, pass each other and say nothing at all. And often, really for no reason at all.
Sometimes breaking down those walls of silence can feel like the journey of a lifetime, even if it is only a few steps away. But it’s important to remember that even in our very separate lives, we share bits and pieces of the same language. The stories, the experiences, we share are often the key to our preservation and mutual uplift.
Today, despite the walls of muteness that have build up over time, seek connection instead.