Victoriano de la Cruz
For over 1,400 years Náhuatl, known colloquially as “Aztec,” has been an active language in Central Mexico. Foundational to the history and heritage of Mexico, it is still the native language of around 1.5 million people.
Victoriano de la Cruz, a linguist studying at the University of Warsaw in Poland, is one of those people. As a Wikipedian, he champions Nahuatl’s continued importance by sharing free knowledge in this and other native languages.
“In Mexico, there are a lot of indigenous languages…68 indigenous languages,” he says. “It’s very, very necessary for me or another people, the native speakers, to put them [on] Wikipedia, [to make them] visible on the internet.”
Three years ago, Victoriano became involved with Wikipedia as a method of revitalising these indigenous languages. “[These articles] need to be extended to other people,” he says. “It’s necessary to not to close this, it’s free, it’s necessary to extend it to more people to show these articles.”
I’m very proud to show this diversity not just to my community. My community is very nice and very beautiful, but I need to show it to all.
As a linguist, he understands how vulnerable these languages can be in an increasingly digital world. A PhD candidate, he works with the University of Warsaw’s “Revitalizing Endangered Languages” team, who focus on Náhuatl along with endangered Polish languages.
“The statistics show, [every] fifteen days one language dies,” he explains. “So it’s necessary to show [that] there’s this diversity of languages. [We] need to show other people…these languages, not [just] English or another language. To show the diversity for me, it’s very important.”
In an effort to continue these languages, Victoriano contributes his translations of Spanish and English to the Nahuatl Wikipedia, which now contains more than 10,000 articles. “My community is a lot of [different], very rich, Atzec culture,” he says. “I’m very proud to show this diversity not [just] to my community…My community is very nice and very beautiful, but I need to show it to all.”