First Edition of the Dictionary of the Otomi Language
Otomi is an Oto-Manguean language spoken by about 240,000 people in Central Mexico, especially in the states of México, Puebla, Veracruz, Hidalgo, Guanajuato, Querétaro, Tlaxcala and Michoacán.
There are many different dialects of Otomi, some of which are mutually unintelligible, and each one has a different native name for the language, including: Hñähnü, Hñähño, Hñotho, Hñähü, Hñätho, Yųhų, Yųhmų, Ñųhų, Ñǫthǫ and Ñañhų. Most of these mean “speak well”. The name Otomi comes from the Nahuatl otomitl, which is thought to come from totomitl (shooter of birds).
Otomi was first written by Spanish friars after the Spanish conquered Mexico during the 16th century. The friars taught Otomi speakers to write their own language using the Latin alphabet, and several books were composed using their spelling system. The language in which they were written is known as Classical Otomi. Since then many Otomi have abandoned their language and switched to Spanish, partly due to negative stereotypes about them perpetuated by Nahuatl and Spanish speakers. Attitudes began to change in 2003, however, when Otomi gained recognition as a national language of Mexico along with 61 other indigenous languages.