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Indigenous language goes online

November 9, 2012

In a bid to encourage the technological and educational development of indigenous communities in northern Jalisco, the University of Guadalajara (UdeG) is translating 40,000 Wixarika words for online use.

Wixarika is the language spoken by the indigenous Huichol people, or Wixaritari, as they refer to themselves, who inhabit parts of Nayarit, Jalisco, Zacatecas and Durango.

The UdeG has already translated 3,900 words for use in free OpenOffice software and  now it is increasing its scope tenfold to create Huichol-friendly versions of the Mozilla Firefox web browser and Wikipedia.

UdeG linguists have been taking part in the translation marathon at the Centro Universitario del Norte campus in northern Jalisco throughout October and November, while others have also been helping in Campeche, Chiapas, Oaxaca, Tabasco and Yucatan. Their efforts will ensure that this ancient language is forever preserved through information technology.

Previous UdeG projects to produce a Wixarika reference grammar and dictionary have been running since the 1980s, led by a team of investigators in the university’s Department of Indigenous Languages, and the first volume was published in 2006.

Some basic Wixarika words and phrases:

One – Zevi

Two – Huta

Three – Haika

Four –  Nauka

Five – Auzuvi

Man – Tevi

Woman – Uka

Dog – Chiki

Sun – Tau

Moon – Meceri

What is your name? – Ke peti tewa

What do you do? – Ke peti yuriene

Where do you live? – Ke pepeaka

How are you? –  Ke aku

I’m fine  – Aix neureu erie

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