20 | ENE | 2020
First Zapotec dictionary published
Researcher Óscar Méndez Espinosa - Photo: Lizbeth Flores/EL UNIVERSAL

First Zapotec dictionary published

Oaxaca, Mexico
Lizbeth Flores, Correspondent for EL UNIVERSAL
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With 60,000 words, this dictionary gathers the basic vocabulary of Zapotec communities in Oaxaca and 62 variants of the language

Researcher Óscar Méndez Espinosa presented the first “Zapotec Dictionary,” a work which comprises 5 volumes and 60,000 words – gathering the basic vocabulary of all Zapotec speaking communities in Oaxaca and its 62 variants.

Although the author – native of the San Pedro Mixtepec community and current professor at the University of the Tehuantepec Isthmus – began to study this langue almost two decades ago, the development of this dictionary began in 2013 and was funded with the support of the System of State Universities of Oaxaca (SUNEO).

“I've been working formally with the Zapotec language for 19 years and I wanted to know how it was as a whole, not only in the variant I speak. This dictionary is a contribution, a first-step. There's still much to do and Zapotec language isn't known in its entirety, it has been neglected,” he explained.

For the researcher, this will also be a tool to teach Zapotec to new generations to prevent it from going extinct.


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The edition was presented Friday night at the Institute of Graphic Arts of Oaxaca by writer Víctor Cata.

During his speech, Víctor Cata highlighted this work is a contribution to the culture of Oaxaca.

“It's a monumental work, this is big, a huge endeavor, because it documents the variants of the Zapotec language not only in the Tehuantepec Isthmus but in the Valley, and the north and south mountain ranges,” Cata said.


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