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Talk - Making a ‘Zapotec’ dictionary in Oaxaca
Talk - Making a ‘Zapotec’ dictionary in Oaxaca

Thu, Dec 14


Oaxaca de Juárez

Talk - Making a ‘Zapotec’ dictionary in Oaxaca

Cultural exploration, (mis)understanding and conflict: Nine years making a ‘Zapotec’ dictionary in Oaxaca

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Time & Location

Dec 14, 2023, 4:30 PM – 6:00 PM

Oaxaca de Juárez, Calle de José María Pino Suárez 519, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca de Juárez, Oax., Mexico

About the event


As part of an on-going personal project (Tāmlũu xna’abesabesa: dhīxhnde’e, nō gamìxjye’e, nō tāndaw bexaLātjyexh, Uza ‘What our mothers taught us: the Zapotecan language, embroidered blouses and cooking of San Vicente Coatlán, Ejutla, Oaxaca’), Bob Klotz is currently creating the first dictionary for dhīxhnde’e, a Zapotecan language spoken by about 3,000 people in the foothills of the Sierra Sur of Oaxaca.

Against the background of the linguistic and cultural diversity of Oaxaca’s Zapotecan communities, Bob will use extracts from the dictionary to discuss the challenges of learning and documenting dhīxhnde’e. Issues to be covered include: working with native speakers, confronting personal and cultural biases, promoting respect for ‘Village Spanish,’ handling sensitive community information, cultural appropriation, agrarian disputes, and the possible impact on the language and community of the new superhighway from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido.


Although trained in linguistics at Yale and Cornell Universities many decades ago, Bob Klotz worked in senior non-profit management, program design and fundraising in Philadelphia, focusing on educational, employment and legal services for refugees and immigrants, and support services for inner-city youth and senior adults. He has been working in Mexico for the past 17 years, as a grant writer in Mexico City, a researcher and consultant on data collection and program evaluation for wildlife protection, solid waste management and sustainable tourism in Akumal, Quintana Roo, and as an English teacher and translator in Oaxaca. In addition to his research into the language and culture of San Vicente Coatlán over the past nine-plus years, Bob has briefly studied the Zapotecan languages of Teotitlán del Valle and San Pablo Güilá, and was a member of the Gueche Luana translation workshop at the Biblioteca de Investigación Juan de Córdova, collaborating in the translation of Colonial Zapotec manuscripts from Etla, written in the 17th and 18th centuries. He has lived in Oaxaca since the spring of 2014 with his wife, Dr. Ruth Margolis.


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