Vodafone has embarked on a great mission of saving an extinct language as part of its latest campaign dubbed “Firsts.” The telecoms company is helping to revive the Mexican language Ayapaneco, currently spoken by only two people in this world, who appeared to be not speaking with each other because of a fight that happened a long time ago. The new campaign by Jung von Matt/Alster drives these two men together again, all to resurrect their dying language.
The story of the reunion is narrated in the documentary video. It briefly describes the problem of the Ayapaneco language and the sad story of its last two speakers—Manuel Segovia, 78, and Isidro Velazquez, 72. At the project’s launch, they didn’t communicate because of a quarrel that happened long ago for a reason no one really remembered. With the help of a community, the creative team and Stanford University linguistic anthropologist Professor James A. Fox, the Ayapaneco language started to live a new life—Mr. Velazquez and Mr. Segovia reunited to teach their language to kids and adults who want to know it.
In addition to a physical language school for kids in Tabasco (Mexico), there is a special website launched, where people can “adopt” various words from the Ayapaneco language. The range of words includes some simple ones like KO’O (“goodbye”) or MAA’K (“to fish”). This effort will help create the first social dictionary ever. Currently, the site has a loading page only, and it’s not clear how exactly users can adopt the words.
“This First demonstrates how language—one of the oldest forms of communication—can be given a new lease of life thanks to modern communications—mobile technology and the internet. Technology can enable some amazing things. In this case, helping to prevent a language from becoming extinct,” commented Gregor Gründgens, the brand director of Vodafone Germany