Microsoft Helps Preserve Mexico’s Indigenous Languages

By Fernanda Duque Hernández

The first online translator of Maya and Otomí.

The official language of Mexico is Spanish but there are also 68 languages and 364 indigenous dialects, many of which are in danger of disappearing. Included on this list are Maya and Otomí but, thanks to the collaboration of Microsoft with Mexican institutions, these languages will be preserved forever at least on an internet database.

Microsoft, in partnership with Institute of Culture and Arts of the state of Querétaro, and the Intercultural Maya University of Quintana Roo, has launched the first translator of the Yucatan Maya and Queretaro Otomí, which is now available at: http://www.bing.com/translator/

The Yucatan Maya language is the second most spoken indigenous language in Mexico and it is currently in great danger of disappearing, with less than 800,000 people still speaking it. Queretaro Otomí is spoken just by just 33,000. The reason? Migration. Out of fear of being discriminated against, some indigenous people who move to urban environments do not teach their mother languages to their children.

Mexico Indigenous Languages

According to Scott Charney, corporate vice president of Microsoft Trustworthy Computing, “The automatic translation systems for Mayan and Otomí were built using the Microsoft Translator Hub, a Translator product available free of cost to allow organizations to create their own unique translation systems."

To succeed this objective, Microsoft and the Mexican institutions worked for 6 months to define this platform that now has more than 13 thousand phrases. It is hoped that this will help businesses and consumers break down communication barriers.

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