It can be difficult to define what languages and people groups are really “indigenous.” In the Americas, we can easily distinguish between the European descendants and the diverse Amerindian populations that inhabited the land prior to colonization. But how do we know these populations are truly indigenous? People groups have migrated around since the beginning of time, displacing other peoples who were there before them. Historically, the Aztecs occupied much of modern-day Mexico, but the existence of Purépecha suggests they may not have been the first inhabitants of the land.
Linguists don’t know exactly where Purépecha comes from. Unrelated to any other known language, Purépecha is considered either a language isolate or its own language family, with only two surviving languages. The language is potentially a remnant of the pre-Aztec civilizations that once called the region home, with traditional Purépecha stories telling of a journey across the Pacific Ocean. Today, Purépecha is spoken by around 175,000 people primarily in the Mexican state of Michoacán, and while the pure number of speakers is increasing, the number of speakers relative to non-speakers is falling. Bilingualism in Spanish is also on the rise, with few ethnic Purépecha people monolingual in their native tongue. Sadly, not many translation agencies work with Purépecha, but we’re one of the rare few, and we’re proud to launch our Purépecha translation services today.
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Purépecha: a unique indigenous language in the middle of Mexico
Purépecha became a written language in the 1500s, taught the Latin alphabet by Spanish friars. During this period, a number of documents in Purépecha were created, including dictionaries, confessionaries, and land titles. However, in the 1700s, the Spaniards became unwelcoming of indigenous languages, pursuing a policy of Hispanicization instead, leading to a slow and steady decline of Purépecha and the many other indigenous languages that surrounded it. Today, Purépecha is divided into two main varieties (or languages): a central language with around 40,000 speakers and a western highland language with around 135,000 speakers.
As a language isolate, Purépecha doesn’t share many of the common traits that other Mesoamerican languages feature. For example, the default Purépecha word order is subject-verb-object or subject-object-verb, even though verb-final languages are not found in any of the major Mesoamerican language families. Purépecha makes heavy use of suffixes, using them for its five cases (although some cases may be marked with a particle instead), and also incorporates a focus clitic to draw attention to a particular constituent of the sentence. Verbs are extensively inflected for aspect, mood, person, number, and more.
We’re here to translate to and from Purépecha for you.
Our Purépecha translators are native speakers of this unique language, and they hold Purépecha close to their hearts. Passionate about bridging the communication gap between Purépecha people and the rest of the world, our translators are happy to both spread Purépecha writings abroad as well as bring new ideas to their people in their native language. We’ve scouted translators from across Michoacán with experience in different types of translation, such as…
Historical translation. The Purépecha people made good use of their literary skills once acquired, leaving a plethora of historical documents in the Amerindian language. Our team would love to help you translate Purépecha historical documents into English so the rest of the world can get a glimpse into this unique culture.
Literary translation. There’s a lot of cultural value in Purépecha stories, and our translators would be thrilled to convert them into English and send them on a tour around the world. Simultaneously, translating creative content into Purépecha is an important way to fight language decline, expanding the domain of usage for the language while encouraging pride among the locals and providing additional materials to help Purépecha learners. Whether it’s traditional media like books and poetry or digital media like websites, mobile apps, and games, our translators are here to help you translate creative works to and from Purépecha.
Educational translation. Purépecha has been introduced into the Mexican school system, but the pedagogical resources for the language pale in comparison to Spanish. Translating educational documents from English to Purépecha is a great way to get kids immersed in the language while providing them with the education they need to be successful in society.
How about contacting us today to discuss your Purépecha translation needs?