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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 Chatino.


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 common.



  • 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. Dissertation.
  • 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 of Michigan.
  • 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 Society.
  • 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