Mar 282010

Defn.: Googlya ball bowled in the game of cricket which bounces in an unexpected direction, commonly referred to as a “wrong one”.

Google, the internet search giant, recently announced it is adding two native Central American languages—Maya and Nahuatl—to its universal search service. In a press interview, Google’s Mexico marketing technology director Miguel de Alva said that,

“Searches in these two pre-Columbian languages and mobile satellite-linked connections to the Internet are part of Google’s growth strategy…. The two languages are of interest to online searchers because the first (Maya) is spoken by 1.5 million people and the second (Nahuatl), by more than one million.”

Geo-Mexico feels that these figures are probably about right, given that the National Statistics Institute’s 2005 mid-census Conteo in Mexico found 1,376,026 Nahuatl speakers and 759,000 Maya speakers  (the Maya figure excludes Guatemala and the handful of Maya speakers in Belize).

Initial press accounts all contained the following description of where these two languages are spoken:

“Nahuatl is mostly spoken in southern Mexico and northern Central America, while Maya is spoken across Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Guatemala and Belize.”

Hmm… maybe the newspapers, websites and  Google should have verified this first by consulting a certain very famous search engine, or (better yet) Geo-Mexico.

While the Maya language is indeed concentrated where Google says it is, Nahuatl is not commonly spoken in southern Mexico, or in northern Central America. Instead, it is mainly spoken in central Mexico. The states with most Nahuatl speakers in Mexico are Puebla, Veracruz, San Luis Potosí, Guerrero and the State of Mexico. What is more, only a few hundred people at most speak any dialect of Nahuatl in any of the Central American countries south of Mexico.

One more reason why everyone, even including Google, should invest $30* to get their own copy of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico! Introductory prices do not last for ever. Buy yours today!

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