Macuiltianguis Zapotec Practicum

July 2-20 (9:30-4:00 daily)

Turlington 1208H

Instructors: John Foreman and Margarita Foreman

Macuiltianguis Zapotec (MacZ), a variant of Sierra Juárez Zapotec (ISO 639-3:zaa), is an indigenous language of Mexico originating in the town of San Pablo Macuiltianguis in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, and now spoken by significant communities in Oaxaca City, Mexico City, and greater Los Angeles, California. Mexico, and in particular the state of Oaxaca, is one of the most linguistically diverse areas of the planet (Nettle & Romaine 2000), with Sierra Juárez Zapotec representing by some estimates just 1 of more than 50 Zapotec languages and 1 of more than 100 languages spoken in Oaxaca (Simon and Fennig 2017). Although Sierra Juárez Zapotec usage is claimed to be vital (Simon and Fennig 2017) or at worst vulnerable (“Ixtlán Zapotec” 2017), the MacZ variant is severely endangered. Children in the community have not been learning it as a native language for some time; the youngest speakers are likely in their late thirties or early forties. Community-driven revitalization and documentation efforts are underway (e.g. Grupo Cultural Tagayu’ 2017) and there is a pressing need for pedagogical materials and documentary works (particularly audio and video resources) in the language. In this practicum, students will work in person with Ms. Margarita Foreman, a community activist, Spanish sociolinguistics graduate student, and native speaker of MacZ, who is currently developing a college-level course in MacZ. We may also have the opportunity to work with other speakers via Skype. Our goals will be to further understanding of the language and to help meet the needs of the community. Students will have the chance to develop individual or small group projects that play to their interests and strengths. These may include developing theoretical analyses of some aspect of the language, preparing pedagogical materials for use by second language learners, or creating documentary resources of interest to linguists and the community. The Practicum will generally be conducted in English, although as this is a native language of Mexico, knowledge of Spanish is certainly an asset, but it is not required.