Have we got a race to the bottom on coverage of endangered languages? I'm starting to wonder, especially after somebody passed this along from ABC News. Let's just write off the headline. First, we've recently talked about the bogus 'ancient languages' meme here. Second, when a language is down to two speakers in their 70s, saying it "may die out" is an understatement, regardless of the relationship between the speakers.
In the piece itself, consider two tiny points. First, the men "should be doing their bit to pass their language on to other people in their community." Says who? These people have made choices. We might hope that people choose to keep community languages alive, but it's not my place to tell these guys to do it. These two "grumpy old men" are probably fathers and grandfathers and they decided for some reason at some point not to speak Zoque de Tabasco to the kids around them.
Second, look at the goal: It's described variously as passing the language on, preserving it, saving, documenting and maintaining it, etc. … a vast range of goals. At this point, you might document this tongue, but you won't 'save' it in any real sense. There's one way that languages normally survive from generation to generation: You speak it to kids. A lot. That, in fact, is how Spanish and Japanese and Cherokee were and are passed on to new native speakers — you don't have to have tape recordings, language classes, linguists providing expert advice.
By the way, for those who've heard of Zoque: There's a set of languages by this name and the others have larger numbers of speakers at present.
Hat tip to Angela for the link.