They speak more than Spanish in Mexico. Yes, the vast majority of the Mexican population speaks Spanish—it’s the lingua franca of the Latin American nation, after all. But there are also an abundance of indigenous Amerindian languages still spoken in the country today, and it’s not just Nahuatl and Mayan languages. The Mexican government officially recognizes 63 languages collectively boasting around 350 dialects, which linguists may sometimes consider to be distinct languages. This paints a much more colorful picture of Mexico’s linguistic layout, although the unfortunate reality remains that many of Mexico’s indigenous languages are endangered.
Southern Mexico is a particular hotspot for indigenous languages. This is where the Otomi languages are found: more specifically, they’re spoken in the southern states of México, Puebla, Veracruz, Hidalgo, Guanajuato, Querétaro, Tlaxcala, and Michoacán, with more than 30% of the population in Hidalgo and México State speaking an Otomian language. However, the entire picture isn’t quite so rosy. While some Otomi languages are in vigorous use, with natural transmission from parents to children, others are on the verge of extinction. Decades of assimilation policies caused the Otomi languages to decline, and while the Mexican government has since reversed course, the effects still ripple through the community. At TranslationServices.com, we can’t single-handedly save this precious Amerindian language group, but we want to do what we can: offer professional translation services for the Otomi languages.
Why not check out a free quote for our Otomi languages translation services? Just message us!
Diving into the details of the Otomi languages
Otomi is technically classified as a single language by the Mexican government, but given that many of its varieties are mutually unintelligible, linguists often prefer to consider it a group of related languages. The languages come from the Oto–Manguean language family, an expansive language family native to southern Mexico—many languages of the family are still spoken vigorously today. The Otomi language group is divided into nine main languages, as follows:
Mezquital Otomi (Northwestern Otomi)
Querétaro Otomi (Northwestern Otomi)
Central Otomi (San Felipe Otomi, Otomi del estado de México)
Temoaya Otomi (Toluca Otomi, Otomi of San Andrés Cuexcontitlan)
Texcatepec Otomi (Sierra Otomi, Highland Otomi)
Eastern Highland Otomi (Sierra Otomi, Highland Otomi)
Tenango Otomi (Sierra Otomi, Highland Otomi)
Ixtenco Otomi (Tlaxcala Otomi)
Altogether, roughly 240,000 to 300,000 people speak the Otomi languages, but Mezquital Otomi claims the most speakers at 100,000. Texcatepec Otomi, Eastern Highland Otoi, and Tenango Otomi, together grouped as Sierra Otomi or Highland Otomi, account for another 72,000 speakers, while Temoaya Otomi is spoken by around 37,000 people.
Grammatically, the Otomi languages are complicated for English speakers. By default, Otomi languages tend to use a verb-subject-object word order. Not only do they feature a set of dual pronouns, indicating two people, in between the regular singular and plural, but they also distinguish between the inclusive (the listener is included) and exclusive (the listener is excluded) non-singular first person. Interestingly, they feature articles, with special pejorative and honorific definite articles. Both subject and object are marked on verbs, rendering the Otomi group verb-heavy languages.
Translation services for the Otomi languages—no matter your needs
The Otomi people are proud of their languages, and that’s certainly true of our translators, who we’ve sourced from all across southern Mexico to represent all Otomi languages. With experience in varying domains of translation, our Otomi translators are proud to use their knowledge and skills to help ease communications between their people and the wider world. We can translate all sorts of documents, including…
Corporate and promotional documents. Want to gain footing in the Otomi-speaking communities of southern Mexico? Our Otomi languages translators can make it happen, whether you’re a multinational corporation or a charitable non-profit, with pinpointed translation services for both internal documents like financial reports or business plans as well as customer-facing materials like ad copy or press releases. We also offer all the same services to native Otomi businesses who want to branch outward.
Historical documents. During the Mexican colonial period, many Otomi language speakers learned to read and write, resulting in an abundance of historical documents from the era. Our translators would be thrilled to help anyone looking to spread these culturally important documents through translation.
Creative documents. Looking to share Otomi stories with the rest of the world and bring awareness to this unique Amerindian culture? Or maybe you want to translate English-language media into Otomi languages to enhance the offerings of these Mexican languages? In either case, let us help you translate everything from books and poems to games, websites, and apps to or from Otomi languages.
Whatever your Otomi language translation project is, we can help—just contact us!