Querétaro Languages

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Querétaro, Mexico Genealogy Gotoarrow.png Language and Languages

Querétaro's most prominent indigenous group are the Otomí. The Otomí have inhabited central Mexico for thousands of years, and have preserved their language to this day. The Otomí language is part of the Oto-Manguean language family. Most Otomí speakers are bilingual and speak Spanish as well as Otomí. 

They have maintained their language, which is called hñahñu, which literally means to speak with nasal sounds. However, most Otomi speakers are bilingual

There are indigenous communities in seven of the 18 municipalities of the state, mostly Otomi and Pame. These communities are divided into three regions: South, Arid Center and Sierra Madre Oriental, with the Otomis dominating in the first two and the Pames in the last.[18] The most important indigenous group in the state is the Otomi. These people have inhabited central Mexico for over 5,000 years and were part of cities and empires such as Cuicuilco, Teotihuacan and Tula. Their language is part of the Oto-mangueana family, which includes Pame, Mazahua, Matlatzinca and the Chichimeca-Jonaz languages. . Their name for themselves varies in the different areas of central Mexico where they live, but in southern part of Querétaro, they call themselves the Ñano. Otomi communities in the state have their own authorities, in addition to Mexican ones, in both the civil and religious arenas, who are elected annually. Most profess the Catholic faith, but it is influenced by indigenous beliefs. The trading of goods is still an important part of the economy of many Otomi communities, and they are known for their abilities with herbal medicines. A number who live in rural areas can still be seen in traditional dress. For women, this includes a hand-embroidered blouse and skirt, a garment called a quexquemetl and huaraches. For men, this includes shirts and pants of undyed or white cotton, tied with an embroidered belt, huaraches and a hat made with palm fronds.[23] These communities are located in south in Amealco de Bonfil. Here, over 25,000 people live in 31 communities, such as San Ildefonso, Tultepec, Santiago Mexquititlán, Chitejé de la Cruz and San Miguel Tlaxcatltepec. In the arid parts of the center of the state, indigenous communities are found in the municipalities of Tolimán, Cadereyta, Colón and Ezequiel Montes, with about 21,500 Otomis in 56 different communities.[18] In the Sierra Madre Oriental, about 3,775 people, mostly Pame with an important group of Huastecas are found in three communities in the municipalities of Jalpan de Serra and Arroyo Seco.[18] However, of all the people in these indigenous communities, only a total of 23,363 spoke an indigenous language, primarily Otomi, as of 2005. Most (94.8%) of these were also speakers of Spanish.[9][18] [edit]

Most materials used in Mexican research are written in Spanish. However, you do not need to speak or read Spanish to do research in Mexican records. However, you will need to know some key words and phrases to understand the records.

The official language of Mexico is Spanish, which is spoken by 90 percent of the people. Indian languages of the Aztecs, Mayans, and other tribes are still spoken throughout the country. Originally there may have been more than 200 roots of native languages.

In 1889, Antonio García Cubas estimated that 38% of Mexicans spoke an indigenous language, down from 60% in 1820. By the end of the 20th century, this figure had fallen to 6%.

In the early history of Mexico after the Spanish conquest, the spiritual leaders knew Latin, and where schools were established, Latin was a required subject. So you may find some Latin terms included in church records.

Hundreds of native languages and dialects existed although very few written records survived the European conquest. Of these the Náuatl language, spoken by the Aztecs of the Central Plateau region, is predominant, followed by the Mayan of the Yucatan Pennisula and Northern Central America. The Zapoteco, Mixteco, and Otomi languages, follow in importance.

In the early records a great many Indian words, especially names and localities, found their way into the Spanish language. Many of them were modified to make them more pronounceable to the Spanish conquerors.

Spanish phonetics may affect the way names appear in genealogical records. For example, the names of your ancestor may vary from record to record in Spanish. For help in understanding name variations, see Mexico Personal Names.

Language Aids[edit | edit source]

The Family History Library provides the following aids:

The following English-Spanish dictionaries can also aid you in your research. You can find these publications listed below and similar material at many research libraries:

Cassell’s Spanish-English, English-Spanish Dictionary New York: Macmillan, 1978. (FHL book 743.21 C272c 1978.)

Velázquez de la Cadena, Mariano. A New Pronouncing Dictionary of the Spanish and English Languages New York: Appleton- Century-Crofts, 1942. (FHL book 463.21 V541n.) y también volumen 2 del mismo.

Diccionario de Autoridades (Dictionary of Authorities). 3 vols. Madrid: Edit. Gredos, 1963. (FHL book 463 D56ld.)

Additional language aids, including dictionaries of various dialects and time periods, are listed in the "Place Search" section of the Family History Library Catalog under:


They are also listed in the "Subject" section of the Family History Library Catalog under:


And remember that a great free resource is always translate.google.com.