Beeh Dicchah Xe7yyoh (Lachixío Zapotec, zpl) is an Otomanguean language
spoken in the Sierra Sur of Mexico in the state of Oaxaca. There are
more than 3000 speakers between Santa María and San Vicente Lachixío. It
is member of the West Zapotec branch of the Zapotec family, which
includes two other language varieties. West Zapotec likely represents
the first strategic expansion of the Monte Albán State into the Sierra
Sur more than 2000 years ago. West Zapotec has suffered massive language
shifts to Spanish: spoken in 10 towns in the first half of the 20th
century, West Zapotec was only being learned by children in 4 towns by
the year 2000.
Features of the language include:
- VSO word order
- Lexical and inflectional tone contrasts
- Proclitic inflectional marking on verbs and nouns
- Enclitic pronominals
- Active vs Less-Active verb derivation paradigms
- Intrinsic spatial system, use of relational nouns derived from
body parts for locative expressions (not pre/postpositions)
- Lenis vs fortis contrast in consonants
Beeh Dicchah Xe7yyoh (Lachixío Zapotec) is spoken in the towns of Santa
María Lachixío and San Vicente Lachixío in the district of Sola de Vega
about 3.5 hours in car from Oaxaca City, the capital of the state of
Oaxaca, (16˚ 44' N, 97˚ 01' W, 2260 meters). The region is comprised of
highland pine and oak forest with cool, wet summers (May-September) and
dry winters with frequent frosts in the months of December and January
and hot days in March and April. The Lachixío region is bordered to the
north by Los Altos Zapotec and to the east by the Zapotec of San Miguel
and San Mateo Mixtepec, all affiliated with West Zapotec. The Lachixío
region is bordered to the west and southwest by Pababuco Zapotec and
People and Culture
The general populations of the Lachixío region are subsistence
agriculturalists growing the basic Mesoamerican staples of corn, beans,
and squash together in diverse fields called ii na7a. A variety
of other vegetables are grown to supplement family diets. After the
first rains of the wet season, the fields are ploughed with oxen teams
trained to respond to whistles and verbal commands. Families work
together to plough, sow seeds, undertake two "cleanings" to remove
weeds, and harvest. Some corn is eaten fresh in August and early
September, with most being dried for tortillas, the staple food
throughout the year. Wild foods are also collected from the forest,
including over 30 varieties of edible mushrooms, honey, and limited
hunting of animals. Some families grow fruit for markets in Oaxaca. The
towns organize their labor to manage the forest; cutting trees as lumber
commodities and maintaining active programs to plant new trees.
Labor-based migrations to cities of Mexico and to the United States are
- Sicoli, M.A. (In Prep) "Lachixío Zapotec-Spanish-English Dictionary"
Mexico: Project for the Documentation of the Languages of
Meso-America and the Instituto Nacional de Lenguas Indígenas.
- Sicoli, M.A. (2011) “Agency and ideology in language shift and language
maintenance.” Ethnographic contributions
to the study of endangered languages: A linguistic anthropological perspective,
edited by Tania Granadillo and Heidi Orcutt-Gachiri, 161-176. Tucson:
University of Arizona Press.
- Sicoli, M.A. (2010) “Shifting
voices with participant roles: Voice qualities and speech registers in
Mesoamerica.” Language in Society 39(4): 521-553.
- Sicoli, M.A. (2007) Tono: A linguistic ethnography of tone
and voice in a Zapotec region. University of Michigan, Ph.D.
- Sicoli, M.A. (2003) "Voices of Coyachila: Murmur,
breathiness, and falsetto among Zapotec communities of Oaxaca" M.A.
Qualifying Paper in Linguistics. Department of Linguistics, University
- Sicoli, M.A. (2000) "Loanwords and contact-induced phonological
change in Lachixío Zapotec." Proceedings of the 25th annual meeting
of the Berkeley Linguistics Society. Berkeley: Berkeley Linguistic
- Sicoli, M.A. (1999) A comparison of Spanish loanwords in
two Zapotec languages: Contact-induced language change in Lachixío and
Juchitán Zapotec. University of Pittsburgh, M.A. Thesis.
- Persons, J.A. 1997. "High pitch as a mark of respect in
Lachixío Zapotec." Working Papers of the Summer Institute of
Linguistics, University of North Dakota 41: [59-60].
- Persons, D. 1979. "Plot structure in Lachixio Zapotec
discourse." In Linda K. Jones (ed.), Discourse studies in Mesoamerican
languages 1: Discussion, 123-40. Summer Institute of Linguistics
Publications in Linguistics, 58. Dallas: Summer Institute of
Linguistics and the University of Texas at Arlington.
- Persons, D. 1979. "Rabbit, coyote, and skunk; When people die:
Lachixio Zapotec." In Linda K. Jones (ed.), Discourse studies in
Mesoamerican languages 2: Texts, 211-21. Summer Institute of
Linguistics Publications in Linguistics, 58. Dallas: Summer
Institute of Linguistics and the University of Texas at Arlington