Mexico’s president Andrés Manuel López-Obrador has adopted a dialect of indigenous Nahuatl as the country’s official language after Spain refused to apologize on the 500th anniversary of the conquest of Mexico City.
Experts say the decision could cause Mexico serious economic damage — not because there are many dialects of Nahuatl, but because “some of those dialects are mutually unintelligible.”
Opposing experts say Nahuatl is the perfect replacement because it was the official language of the Aztec empire and a common tongue until the Spanish conquest began in the 16th century.
Nahuatl is part of the family of languages known as “Uto-Aztecan” which is spoken by about 1.5 million people, most of whom live in central Mexico. Experts say the linguistic shift will ease the pain expressed by indigenous peoples even if no one else can understand what they’re saying.
López Obrador demanded the apology in a letter to the king of Spain, Felipe VI, urging him to acknowledge Spanish abuses and to ask Mexico for forgiveness.