Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:

Web-based mapping in multi-variant fieldwork contexts: Perspectives from diasporic Mixtec

File Size Format  
25270.mp3 63.75 MB MP3 View/Open

Item Summary

Title:Web-based mapping in multi-variant fieldwork contexts: Perspectives from diasporic Mixtec
Authors:Hall, Patrick
John-Martin, Emily
Contributors:Hall, Patrick (speaker)
John-Martin, Emily (speaker)
Date Issued:12 Mar 2015
Description:The presence of multiple linguistic variants can be a significant challenge during the early stages of language documenta- tion. When speakers regularly make use of some combination of multiple variants, it may be difficult for linguists to align characteristics of collected data with particular language variants. Additionally, where extensive documentation exists, it may be difficult to synthesize that work into a useful overview before beginning to evaluate the interrelationships of current-day linguistic variants. To address these issues, we describe a workflow that makes use of open-source web-based mapping technology which allows linguists to synthesize disparate sources of existing documentation, while remaining flexible enough to pursue the unpredictable aspects of variation which emerge in ongoing fieldwork.

We illustrate the application of this approach to our own research in two diasporic communities of Mixtec speakers in the United States. Unlike the Mixtec variants within Mexico, the internal variation of Mixtec in diasporic communities in the United States is little documented, despite the fact that these communities include tens of thousands of speakers (Kresge 2007). Specifically, we investigate multivariant speech communities in the Central Coast of California and the Skagit Valley region of Washington, where variants of Lowland Mixtec from the districts of Juxtlahuaca and Silacayoapam in Oaxaca, and the Montaña region of Guerrero, among others, are in close contact.

In the initial stages of fieldwork in diasporic contexts such as these, researchers must rely heavily on the linguistic meta- observations of speakers, especially on those who are heavily embedded in language work, such as interpreters. In our work on diasporic Mixtec, we have found that mapping helps us to be better equipped to interpret these language workers’ observations on variation and accommodation, while simultanously taking previous fieldwork on the variants in question into account.

Earlier documentation (Ethnologue 2013, Josserand 1983) suggests that there are low levels of mutual intelligibility between many of these variants. However, our research suggests that as Mixtecs from various home towns form new communities in the US, linguistic accommodation rapidly leads to an increase in mutual intellgibility. By using mapping to inform comparison, we are able to show that some aspects of these mergers are unlike those found in previous documentary work. This is evidence that distinct forms of Mixtec may be emerging in the US diaspora context.

We show how mapping is both responsive to input from community members as well as previous research, and useful in finding new avenues of inquiry. The perspectives gained on multi-variant scenarios from this approach help to identify and situate ongoing processes of linguistic change.


Alvarez, Fred. 2004. Interpreters Give Voice to the Indigenous. Los Angeles Times. interpret11 (1 September, 2014).

Bade, Bonnie Lynn. 1999. Is there a doctor in the field? Underlying conditions affecting Access to health care for California farmworkers and their families. California State University, San Marcos. (27 June, 2013).

Brown, Patricia Leigh. 2013. “Exploited of the exploited” carve own path among disparate cultures. The Center for Inves- tigative Reporting.
Josserand, Judy Kathryn. 1983. Mixtec Dialect History. (Proto-Mixtec and Modern Mixtec Text). Tulane University.

Kresge, Lisa. 2007. Indigenous Oaxacan Communities in California: An Overview. California Institute for Rural Studies 1107. (27 June, 2013).

Lewis, MP, GF Simons & CD Fennig. 2013. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Dallas, TX: SIL International.

Perry, Elizabeth Bradley. 2009. The declining use of the Mixtec language among Oaxacan migrants and stay-at-homes: The persistence of memory, discrimination, and social hierarchies of power. University of California, San Diego.

Stephen, Lynn. 2004. Mixtec farmworkers in Oregon: linking labor and ethnicity through farmworker unions and home- town associations. Indigenous Mexican Migrants in the United States, edited by Jonathan Fox and Gaspar Rivera-Salgado, La Jolla: University of California, San Diego, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies & Center for US-Mexican Studies.

Young, S. 2001. Reaching Out to a Challenging Community. The Utopian.

Zylstra, Carol F. 1991. A syntactic sketch of Alacatlatzala Mixtec. In C. Henry Bradley & Barbara E. Hollenbach (eds.), Studies in the syntax of Mixtecan languages 3, 1-177. Summer Institute of Linguistics and the University of Texas at Arlington Publications in Linguistics, vol. 105, 105. Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics and the University of Texas at Arlington.
Rights:Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Appears in Collections: 4th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)

Please email if you need this content in ADA-compliant format.

Items in ScholarSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.