SIL Mexico

Coatzospan Mixtec

(ISO code miz)



San Juan Coatzospan Mixtec (ISO 639-3 code miz) is spoken in southern Mexico, in the Sierra Mazateca of the state of Oaxaca, in and around the town of San Juan Coatzospan and some small neighboring communities, including San Isidro Coatzospan, Agua Español, and Loma de la Plaza. (Coatzospan is alternately spelled Coatzospam.)

Where San Juan Coatzospan is located


This variety of Mixtec is spoken by about 5,000 people. A few speakers live in Mexico City and Puebla and Oaxaca City, but the majority remain in the village, and those who live elsewhere often return for important town functions.


The town of San Juan Coatzospan
The town of Coatzospan


The women of Coatzospan historically wove white huipiles (tunic blouses) and added beautiful embroidery, but that custom has not continued (although a few older women still wear them). Some people from this area grow coffee to sell, some grow fruit for personal consumption, and almost everyone grows corn, beans and squash. Even so, people generally have to buy food to supplement what they grow.

San Juan Coatzospan textile


In Coatzospan Mixtec, there are phonological and lexical differences between the speech of men and women.

Women palatalize t to ch before i and e:

tina, 'dog', is pronounced as "china".
ntee, 'black', is pronounced as "nchee". (Prenasalized stops and affricates are pronounced as voiced.)


Both affricates and oclusivas, when prenasalized, are pronounced as voiced consonants. Therefore, for example, the word ntee is pronounced as "ndee".


Also, men and women use different third person pronouns for masculine gender. Men use na, whereas women use ti (pronounced "chi") to say 'he/him' (third person masculine), though both use tun to say “she/her” (third person feminine).

Men and women also use different greetings. The men say so'o nto dan to another man and ntiusi nto to a woman. Women use only ntiusi nto, whether speaking to a man or to a woman (palatalizing the nt to "nch", thus pronouncing "nchiusi nto").


Mountain view from San Juan Coatzospan
View from San Juan Coatzospan


--Priscilla Small


Publications available on this site