Language is always changing and evolving. As such, any dictionary must necessarily be viewed as a work in progress and a living document. As new words enter a language, older words may become obsolete. Meanings of words may shift, and pronunciations can change over time. Descriptions of existing words in a dictionary can always be elaborated on or improved upon. This tri-lingual Teotitlán del Valle Zapotec-Spanish-English dictionary is no different. It too is a work in progress and a living document.

In consulting this dictionary, keep in mind the following: First, this is the first edition of the dictionary and work on the second edition is already underway; and secondly, while this dictionary represents the language of Teotitlán del Valle Zapotec based on collaboration with many native speaker consultants over several years, the pronunciation presented for each word has been normalized to one native speaker in the community. Both plans for the future and elaboration on the pronunciation are elaborated upon below.

The Teotitlán del Valle Zapotec-Spanish-English dictionary contains approximately 3,000 lexical items (words). Each lexical entry contains at minimum the conventional spelling of the word based on a transparent and accessible writing system that was developed specifically to represent Teotitlán del Valle Zapotec [henceforth TdVZ], a pronunciation guide in the International Phonetic Alphabet (if the audio is not available), grammatical information about the word, and illustrative sentences for some of the entries. The next edition of the dictionary will include more lexical entries, more illustrative sentences, further refinement of glosses and definitions, more variant pronunciations, and more audio/visual clips. The ultimate objective of this dictionary project has been and continues to be the production of a rich document that does justice to the beauty of the language, culture, and its speakers.

With respect to the representation of the language in this dictionary, some users’ pronunciations may vary slightly from the pronunciations provided, as is the case in all dictionaries. Pronunciations may vary in Teotitlán del Valle depending upon the age of the speaker, the area of town the speaker is from, and other social factors. While many community members were consulted and contributed to the making of this dictionary (see Acknowledgements), in order to represent the language in a consistent and standard way, all pronunciations were normalized to one speaker. The speaker whose pronunciation is represented in this dictionary is a middle-aged, native-Zapotec-speaking, male member of the community, Serafin Martinez Gonzalez. Variant pronunciations will continue to be uploaded to the dictionary.

As a final note to this preface, I want point out three advantages to publishing the dictionary on-line verses through more traditional publishing channels. The first advantage is obvious; by publishing on-line, users have immediate and free access to the dictionary. Given it has been a community effort in producing the dictionary, it seems only fitting that it be made readily available to the community at large. The second advantage to on-line publication is that frequent updates to the dictionary can easily be made. Finally, the on-line version enables audio recordings to be uploaded for individual lexical entries so users can listen to the words being pronounced, thus making the experience more interactive.

So, enjoy exploring this site and keep a lookout for new updates as we continue to refine and expand!


Troi Carleton, Professor

Director of the Teotitlán del Valle Community Language Archive Project

Linguistics Program Coordinator at San Francisco State University

May 2015