Isthmus Zapotec love poem


Xpandaalu' ni cayuya

Diidxa nashi ni hriuladxe'

Cadi indou cashiáni.

¡Ma ngasi bia'na ni hranashie'!

Translated into Isthmus Zapotec by O Toledo Esteva
Isthmus Zapotec love poem

Book of poetry "La Glace"
Original version
French poem

Have you seen this woman

My verses are now translated into Zapotec of the isthmus (diidxazá), an indigenous mesoamerican language of Oaxaca state in Mexico. There are almost 100,000 speakers for the diidxazá, which is also called Zapotecs of the coastal plain. Perhaps have you already seen her, taking her sunbathes, on the beach before to go to swim. If you have seen her, i am sure that you will return to this beach, to be sure that it was not a dream.

There are about 64 varieties of the Zapothec language. These languages, belong to the Otomanguean family, and are spoken across Oaxaca state in Mexico. Zapotecan is divided into two branches – Chatino and Zapotec proper. Linguists are divided for the number of languages in each group; perhaps 6 Chatino languages and 58 Zapotec languages.

Zapotec languages are spoken by over 200 000 people and can be divided into three groups. The Valley-Isthmus group,, the Northern group spoken in the mountains to the north, and the Southern group spoken in the mountains to the south. These three groups containing many distinct languages. Chatino languages are spoken in the southwestern Oaxaca by perhaps 30 000 people.

The first documentation comes from grammars, dictionaries, and religious material, from the Spanish colonial period. Archaeological site,s associated with the Zapotec state of ca. 100 B.C. to ca. 900 A.D. also contain Zapotec hieroglyphic writing. Efforts to decipher these Zapotec hieroglyphics are still ongoing.


Zapotecs are the descendants of an important pre-Columbian civilization encountered by the Spaniards during their invasion in the 16th century. There are still many archaeological traces that prove the importance of this civilization. We find their hieroglyphic writing for mathematical and chronological inscriptions.

The Zapotec capital was Monte Alban, a great hilltop metropolis overlooking the Oaxaca valley and dating back to about 500bc. After reaching is zenith about 500ad, Zapotec culture went into a gradual decline and in 900 Monte Alban was abandoned.

Their religion, dominated by the god of rain and vegetation, the god of maize and fire, and their political organization, probably a theocracy, are the most striking characteristics of this civilization. In the 13th century the Mixtecs beat back the Zapotecs and gain control of their territory.

Zapotecs live today in village communities monogamous, patrilocal and generally endogamous, with an agricultural vocation where the compaternity remains a factor of fundamental social cohesion.

Poem translated into Zapotec (528 languages)