Posted to the Ethnos Project by on October 4th, 2014

I recently received a message from Andrea Ariza, linguist and co-creator of a documentary project called Fade Out: documenting the death of a language. She writes, “With this film we want to document the situation of Zaachila Zapotec, an under-described and endangered language of Mexico, the causes and consequences of its loss, as well as the experiences of the last speakers.”

About the documentary

[source] Oaxaca state is one of the most linguistically diverse areas of the world. Nevertheless, this diversity is in danger of disappearing. Many indigenous languages, such as Zaachila Zapotec, are rapidly losing speakers. When languages disappear, the speakers may feel a loss of a source of identity and a way of expressing themselves.

Through the linguistic documentation of Zaachila Zapotec carried by two members of this team, we want to explore the experiences lived by the lasts speakers, find out what the main causes of the loss of their language are and what this loss entails. The main objective of this documentary film is to make visible what language extinction implies and how it is experienced.

The Zapotecan civilization has remained in Mexico since pre-columbian times. Archaeological evidence demonstrates that their culture goes back 2,500 years. They have coexisted with Mayans and Aztecs, fighting for the supremacy in the valleys of Oaxaca. Over 500 years after the Spanish conquest, the descendants of this civilization still employ more than 50 Zapotec languages, amongst them, Zaachila.

Like many documentary projects, they are trying to get started with a crowdfunding campaign. Visit the links below to learn more about the documentary and to help support the team behind it…

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