Zapoteco Language Preserved Thanks to Didxazapp

Zapoteco Language Preserved Thanks to Didxazapp

Mexico’s indigenous language diversity is under threat due the overwhelming predominantly-used Spanish language, but young people like Gonzalo Santiago Martinez are doing their best to preserve their heritage by using new apps.

Martinez created Didxazapp, the ‘word app,’ to translate Spanish to the Isthmus Zapoteco (or Didxaza), an Oto-Manguean indigenous language from Oaxaca, in 2016. Since then, he has increased his efforts to promote his mother tongue in a predominantly Spanish-speaking country.

“There’s a lot of people constantly singing, doing concerts, writing poetry. In my case I’m trying to make the few, or many words available in the translator to reach the greatest possible number of people,” Santiago told RT in interview. “If another person learns a word, I think that’s already a step in [the right direction] trying to preserve Zapoteco.”

Martinez grew-up in Juchitan, Oaxaca, and says he started to forget his original language when his family emigrated to Mexico City, a metropolitan society where indigenous people and their languages get lost in the immense anonymity and structural discrimination.

When he was a young student, he says, he had an experience that is common to many indigenous peoples throughout the country.

“I was speaking with a partner and teaching him some words in Zapoteco… and the teacher told me ‘don’t teach him that, don’t teach him Zapoteco,’” remembers Martinez. “It was a bad experience because she scolded me and didn’t let me out for recess. She took me into the classroom and prohibited me speaking in Zapoteco again.”

Even though such discriminatory practices are not state-sponsored anymore, they prevail in certain contexts.The Mexican government […]

About the author

This article was written by Ian Hayden Parker, Oaxaca Life staff writer, the leading source for English news in Oaxaca, Mexico.