SIL Mexico

San Francisco Ozolotepec

Xanaguía Zapotec

Zapotec of San Francisco and
San José Ozolotepec

(ISO code ztg)


The language spoken in Santa Catarina Xanaguía (ISO code ztg), which is also spoken in San Francisco Ozolotepec and San José Ozolotepec, is a member of the Zapotecan language family. The language area is located south of Oaxaca City, in southern Oaxaca in southern Mexico (see map). (San Francisco Ozolotepec is located at 16°4'10" N, 96°12'31" W, Santa Catarina Xanaguía at 16°04'26" N, 96°13'35" W, and San José at 16°05'11" N, 96°12'54" W.)

(Note: About 10 other towns with the Ozolotepec name, such as Santa Cruz, San Miguel, and Santa María Ozolotepec, speak a distinct variety of Zapotec, which has been referred to as Ozolotepec Zapotec in the Ethnologue and which has the ISO code zao.)

Map: Where Santa Catarina Xanaguía is located
The towns that speak this variety of Zapotec

There are approximately 1600 speakers of this variant of Zapotec.


Zapotec women


The town of San Francisco Ozolotepec is at about 2000 m. altitude, in a forest which quite often is under heavy fog. About 4.5 hours by car from the nearest market town, it is quite remote and has very steep terrain.


Clouds over San Francisco Ozolotepec


Though the land is mostly used for subsistence farming, oregano and coffee are grown as cash crops to a minimal extent. San Francisco Ozolotepec has a high school which serves at least six towns in the region. Each year, San Francisco Ozolotepec hosts the celebration of the fourth Friday of Lent (Cuaresma). Visitors often come from other towns, and those from San Francisco Ozolotepec that have moved to the city of Oaxaca often return for the celebration.

Xanaguía Zapotec often uses certain nouns in full form, such as minn 'person' or nay 'woman', where many other languages would use third person pronouns, since Xanaguía Zapotec does not have the latter.


--Jennifer Lynn Heise


The photograph of the three women is used with their permission.


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