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Dizhsa Nabani


For anyone keen on Indigenous languages, language revitalization and the International Year of Indigenous Languages (2019 at its finest!), this conversation spotlights a favorite new video series: Dizhsa Nabani = Lengua Viva = Living Language, a documentary project on Zapotec language and identity in San Jerónimo Tlacochahuaya, Oaxaca, Mexico.

Dizhsa Nabani – Living Language was made possible by Haverford College’s DocuLabs Program, a joint initiative of VCAM and the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities.

The series was co-produced by: Moisés García Guzmán, Brook Lillehaugen, Hilary Brashear, Laura Deutch, Sabea K. Evans, Kathryn Goldberg, Lucia Palmarini, Marcelo Jauregui-Volpe, Edward Ogborn, Catherine Rodgers, Vicky Funari.

Episode One
“These days we need young people and adults to be able to call themselves Zapotec.” “En estos días, necesitamos que los jóvenes y las demás personas puedan identificarse como zapotecos.”


Key Links
Press Kit

Thursday, August 30

Talking with:
Brook Danielle Lillehaugen, Assistant Professor and Co-Chair of Tri-Co Department of Linguistics (Chair for all Bi-Co matters), Haverford College

Moisés García Guzmán
Language Activist Head of the office of Cultural Affairs in Tlacochahuaya. Work includes a series of videos on YouTube, a co-authored online Talking Dictionary. He also serves as a board member to the Ticha Project. He hopes to raise awareness on the importance of language preservation as an element of cultural identity in the state of Oaxaca. Follow him on Twitter at @BnZunni.

Lucia Palmarini
Chicago and Mexico City based producer, educator and creative consultant working at the intersection of arts, media and social justice for over ten years.

[10 Episodes]

  1. nodo || primero || first (3:32)
  2. gal rxal lo dich || acceso a la lengua || language access (4:37)
  3. bza || frijoles || beans  (2:35)
  4. gal rui’ guib guel || desherbando || killing weeds (6:04)
  5. gue’ bac || tlacolula market || el mercado de tlacolula (3:48)
  6. güi’ld || el músico || the musician (5:03)
  7. conquist || danza de la pluma || dance of the conquest  (7:12)
  8. gal ria’t chuculat || molienda de chocolate || grinding chocolate (5:01)
  9.  zuilru || panoplia || gabriela’s workshop (4:26)
  10. bën za || gente zapoteca || zapotec people  (5:06)

Dizhsa Nabani explores the relationship between Zapotec identity, language and daily life. Zapotec languages are considered threatened as they are being acquired as native languages by fewer and fewer people. Community and individual identity are entwined with language, especially in Mexico, where criteria for self-identifying as belonging to an indigenous community usually includes speaking the corresponding language. Most Zapotec people today are bilingual, and under pressure from anti-indigenous discrimination, many choose to use Spanish in contexts that were previously reserved as Zapotec-language domains, including the home, the market, and town meetings. Given this sociolinguistic context, speaking Zapotec can be seen as an act of resistance. The goal of this web-based documentary series is to explore how language is interwoven with identity and with the vitality of the Zapotec community in San Jerónimo Tlacochahuaya, including the relationship between language and traditional farming, cooking techniques, and artistic performance and creation.

There is no standard orthography for San Jerónimo Tlacochahuaya Zapotec. All spellings are provided by the speaker. | No hay una ortografía estándar para el Zapoteco de San Jerónimo Tlacochahuaya. El orador ha provisto todos los deletreos.

August 26, 2018 Los Angeles Public Library

Event Page



Elsewhere on the Web

Artwork / Cue Yourself
Lessons in Zapotec (San Jerónimo Tlacochahuaya): Zac rsily = Buenos días = Good morning = @dizhsanabani


San Jerónimo Tlacochahuaya





Indigenous Languages

2019 – International Year of Indigenous Languages

Haverford College

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