Earlier this week the story broke that the obscure Mexican language, Ayapaneco, is now spoken only by two people in the world. They both live in the same small village (population approximately 4000), but don’t get along, and therefore don’t speak to each other. The name of the language ayapaneco actually means ‘true voice’ – an irony not lost many who wrote up the story. When boyband One True Voice disbanded six months after losing out to their rivals Girls Aloud, one journalist quipped at the time that perhaps the group had only ‘one true voice between them‘. Villagers Manuel Segovia and Isidro Velazquez don’t even appear to have that, since they do not speak.
A story like this is replete with implications for the preacher. We could talk about the value of words, about the danger of having the truth but not sharing it, and about how its truth might be muted by our poor relationships. However, before jumping in too far, it is worth taking a breath. Firstly, direct quotes from the two men concerned reveal that there is not necessarily any animosity between them. Secondly, we have to be cautious about ‘trading’ on a story in any way which appears to make preaching ‘capital’ out of another’s misfortune.
There were some newspaper articles earlier this year about how news stories are picked up and reused by news services around the world. This is one of the things which makes it so easy to circulate false rumours and stories. Maybe in a bid to avoid that accusation, newspapers running the Ayapaneco story felt obliged to add something else to it. One picked up on an ingenious web crawler which scans Twitter for tweets in dying languages in order to put the users in touch with each other. This an ingenious story in itself, but it begs the question – does anyone in that tiny village, let alone the two elderly men in question, actually use Twitter?
If not, it sounds rather like a bolt on illustration which doesn’t really fit, and we would never do that,would we?