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Ayutla Mixe documentation data

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Language Ayutla Mixe
Depositor Rodrigo Romero Méndez
Affiliation Instituto de Investigaciones Filológicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Location Mexico
Collection ID 0005
Grant ID FTG0029
Funding Body ELDP
Collection Status Collection online
Landing Page Handle


Summary of the collection

English: This collection consists of audio and video recordings of speakers of Ayutla Mixe, a previously underscribed language spoken in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico.

Español: Este depósito consiste en grabaciones de audio y video de hablantes de Ayutla Mixe, un idioma sin descripción previa que se habla en el estado de Oaxaca, México.


Group represented

Culture: Mixe; Community: San Pedro y San Pablo Ayutla Mixe (Ayutla).

The county (municipio) of San Pedro y San Pablo Ayutla (hereafter referred just as Ayutla) is located in the southern state of Oaxaca in Mexico. According to the Mexican Institute of Statistics, the population of the county is 5,500 inhabitants, from which 96% of the population over age of 5 speaks Mixe.

Ayutla Mixe is a small community that speaks a previously undescribed language that is on the decline. It is different from other languages of the Mixe branch that have been partially described or documented, and certainly it is marked distinct from the only comprehensively described language of the family, Olutec.

There is no institution or spokesperson that represents the Ayutla Mixe community specifically on linguistic or cultural issues.


Language information

Ayutla Mixe – also known as Ayuuhk – belongs to South Highland Mixe, a language part of the Mixean branch of the Mixe-Zoque family. Tlahuitoltepec, Tamazulapan, Tepuxtepec and Tepantlali Mixe have been proposed to be other dialects of South Highland Mixe. Oto-Manguean languages are spoken in the same state, and more specifically, Zapotecan languages are spoken in the proximities of Ayutla. Ayutla Mixe speakers are aware of the dialectal differences with their neighbors. Nevertheless, they acknowledge that all the Mixean communities belong to the same people and form a single unit.

The Mixe language Olutec has been comprehensively documented. Several other Mixe languages have been documented to some extent.

Mixe is acquired by children in the family, but an increasing number of families in the main village of the county do not teach Mixe, but Spanish, to their children. Mixe is used to address persons from the surrounding communities, both Mixe and Spanish in conversations with speakers from distant communities and Spanish to Zapotec speakers.

Current social roles and status:

Since Ayutla is the first community one encounters on the road from Oaxaca City to the Mixean area, it has been subject to the impact of western culture more than other communities. In addition, school education as well as migration to Mexico City are accelerating the loss of the language in two ways: in its majority, teenagers speak Spanish with each other even if they are fluent speakers of Mixe, and very frequently migrants do not speak Mixe when they return to the community and certainly they do not teach Mixe to their children. In the market, both Mixe and Spanish are spoken, but there is an increasing use of Spanish for commercial purposes.

Almost all the education is in Spanish although there are a few bilingual primary schools in the county (some of them having just two instructors). The teacher may, however, speak another dialect, and, according to local educational authorities, bilingual school has less prestige than monolingual Spanish school. During community meetings, just Mixe is spoken. Finally, Ayutla is, in its majority, catholic, and the religious services are in Spanish.


A practical orthography for Mixe has been proposed, however it has never been used in the community. The state’s government has published some textbooks, but they are in another dialect and Ayutla Mixe speakers are almost unable to read them, due to the lack of use of the orthography as well as dialectal differences. There are no printed materials in Ayutla Mixe.


Special characteristics

It contains stories of which there are no previous recordings.


Collection contents

English: The collection comprises over 150 audio and video files, as well as transcriptions of texts. Recordings belong to three types: recordings of texts, folk definition and elicitation.

There are two genres of text: legends/folk tales and local histories. The folk definitions involved two speakers in a variant of the ‘taboo’ game, in which one participant provides a description and the other has to guess the target word. The elicitation recordings focus mainly on temporal and spatial relations.

Español: El depósito consta de más de 150 archivos de audio y video, además de transcripciones de textos. Las grabaciones son de tres tipos: grabaciones de textos, definición folklórica y elicitación.

Hay dos géneros de texto: leyendas/cuentos folklóricos e historias locales. En las definiciones folklóricas participaron dos hablantes en una variante del juego ‘tabú’, en el que un participante provee una descripción y el otro tiene que adivinar la palabra destino. Las grabaciones de la elicitación se centran principalmente en relaciones temporales y espaciales.


Acknowledgement and citation

English: To refer to any data from the collection, please cite as follows:

Romero Méndez, Rodrigo. 2005. Ayutla Mixe documentation data. Endangered Languages Archive. Handle: Accessed on [insert date here].

Anyone who uses the deposited materials must acknowledge Rodrigo Romero (the depositor), but also the consultant, interviewer, and transcriber(s) (in transcriptions). In stories, the storyteller should be acknowledged as the author.

Note that the convention given for names is the following: Given.Name (+ 2nd.Given.Name) + 1st.Family.Name + 2nd.Family.Name.

So, in the case of the depositor, Rodrigo Romero Méndez, “Rodrigo” is the given name and “Romero Méndez” are the two family names. For practical terms, the last two names are the family names, although the 2nd.Family.Name is optional when acknowledging.

Español: Cualquiera que utilice los materiales depositados tiene que reconocer a Rodrigo Romero (el depositante), pero también al consultor, al entrevistador, y al/a los transcriptor(es) (en transcripciones). En historias, el narrador debe reconocerse como autor.

Note que la convención utilizada para nombres es la siguiente: (+ 2º + 1er.Apellido + 2º.Apellido.

Así que, en el caso del depositante, Rodrigo Romero Méndez, “Rodrigo” es el nombre de pila y “Romero Méndez” son los dos apellidos. En términos prácticos, los dos nombres finales son los apellidos, aunque el 2º.Apellido es opcional para el reconocimiento.

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