The Americas have a rich cultural and linguistic heritage, with roughly 560 indigenous languages spoken here. The geographical zone also features a significant number of colonial and immigrant languages as well as Germanic- and Romance-based creoles.

It is widely believed that the written languages of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica are among the few whose writing systems have independent origins and were not adapted from or inspired by those of their neighbours.

Despite measures taken with the aim of preserving the indigenous American languages, most of them are currently considered endangered, with the exception of those that have the status of national languages. Over the past centuries, many local language varieties have disappeared due to speakers shifting towards both colonial and more dominant indigenous languages. ILARA offers a course in Classical Maya, the language of the inscriptions of pre-Columbian Mayan civilisation, a course in Tikuna, a modern endangered Amerindian language isolate, spoken in Amazonia and a course in Ancient Tupi, the language of the coastal regions of colonial Brazil.

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