Last year the Center for Immigration Studies reported that, in some states, 1 in 4 residents speak a language other than English at home. As we become an increasingly diverse country, expanding access to quality language services is crucial to helping individuals communicate and make informed decisions, including in more rare languages.
CLI currently provides interpreting support in over 230 languages, and many of those are languages of limited diffusion (LLD.) These LLDs represent many language families including Native, Indo-European, and Micronesian, to name a few. Even though they’re spoken by smaller populations, they’re an important part of the growing diversity and culture in the U.S.
So let’s take a closer at the new additions to CLI’s language list that we offer to our clients and their limited English proficient customers.
CLI’s language list: 2 rare additions
Spoken primarily in Guatemala and Belize, Q’eqchi’ is one of the most widely spoken Mayan languages with around 800,000 native speakers.
During the Spanish conquests, the Q’eqchi’ people remained largely isolated in their mountainous terrain of northern Guatemala. This allowed the Q’eqchi’ to stave off any advances by the conquistadors. They eventually reached an agreement with their would-be attackers that allowed them to maintain independence. This contributed to Q’eqchi’ still having a high number of native speakers.
Today many immigrants flee conflict and food insecurity in Guatemala and other nearby countries where Mayan languages are spoken. There are over 20 Mayan languages and each one is very distinct. When people resettle, they bring a diverse family of languages with them.
Yapese is spoken in the Federated States of Micronesia, specifically within a group of islands called the state of Yap. It’s one of the top Micronesian languages, along with Chuukese and Kosraean.
Yap was the economic and cultural center of Micronesia when the islands were first settled over four thousand years ago. Today the state of Yap and surrounding islands have a large fishing economy, and many Micronesians move freely to the U.S. for work opportunities.
There’s no official count of Yapese speakers, but estimates put the number around 7,000 or more.
Do you have experience interpreting a language of limited diffusion? If so, or if you know anyone who does, please submit your résumé!