Albarradas Zapotec

(ISO code zas)



The language spoken in Santo Domingo Albarradas, Santa María Albarradas, and San Miguel Albarradas (ISO code zas) is a member of the Zapotec language family. The language area is located east of Oaxaca City, in the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico (see map).

While the Zapotec language is actively spoken in Santo Domingo Albarradas, there is a younger generational shift away from it taking place in the town of Santa María Albarradas. Most people in the towns of San Lorenzo Albarradas and San Bartolo Albarradas do not speak Zapotec. In the nearby town of Santa Catarina Albarradas a variety of Zapotec is spoken that is quite different from that spoken in the other towns just mentioned, and is actually recognized as a different variety.

Location of Albarradas in Mexico
Location of Albarradas towns

There are about 5,500 speakers of the language, including 1,500 to 2,000 in Santo Domingo Albarradas (1993 SIL).


A Zapotec wedding
A Zapotec wedding


The town of Santo Domingo Albarradas is located on the side of a mountain slope, at an altitude of over 1500 meters. Even when it is quite warm in the Oaxaca Valley, it can be chilly enough in Santo Domingo Albarradas for people to wear their jackets (along with the traditional hats and shawls, for men and women respectively). There is regular transportation twice a week by passenger bus to the town of Mitla, which is not very far as the crow flies, but it takes about two hours to travel over the mountains.

Traditional hats
Typical shawl
Typical shawl

Many Zapotec languages have a distinction between first person inclusive (you and I and maybe other(s)) and first person exclusive (I/we and other(s), not you). Albarradas Zapotec has this distinction, but also uses an inclusive dual form dunneh (only you (sg.) and I, no one else) as contrasted with the inclusive plural form (I/we and you) dunneh ree.

View of Albarradas from a distance
View of Albarradas
The town of Albarradas


--Beth Merrill


Publications available