A blog about linguistics and the beauty of language.
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My first blog post / My first archive deposit

Introducing: The Zapotec Collection of May Helena Plumb

Welcome to the blog! I’m using my inaugural post to mark a momentous occasion. It is with great pride that I announce *drumroll* my very first archive deposit! I’ll go into more detail below, but if you want to skip ahead, you can check out my archive collection here.

Last summer (2018), I spent five weeks in San Jéronimo Tlacochahuaya (Oaxaca, Mexico) learning about the Zapotec language they speak there. I came home with lots of recordings, data which will be the foundation of my future research on Tlacochahuaya Zapotec grammar. These recordings aren’t just useful to me, though, they’re important for anyone who wants to learn about Zapotec (or anyone who wants to evaluate my claims). So I put them in an archive, where anyone can access them. I chose the Archive of the Indigenous Languages of Latin America (AILLA), which is hosted at the University of Texas. All of my recordings are publicly available. You could go listen to them! (All you need to do is create a free AILLA account.)

I’ll continue to add to my archive collection as my research progresses, but for now, there are 29 resources (63 total files). Some of these resources are short texts in Tlacochahuaya Zapotec, such as a session where Antonio García Cruz talked to me about how smart donkeys are. Other resources focus on particular words and phrases, such as my conversations with Moisés García Guzmán about ritual speech at Tlacochahuaya funerals. Right now, most of the resources contain audio recordings in Tlacochahuaya Zapotec and Spanish, but in the future, I’ll add transcriptions and translations of the Zapotec audio.

This archive deposit has been a full year in the making, and it’s an exciting step in my research process. As I said above, putting my data in an archive means that other people can access it, which is an important part of responsible scholarship. But why an archive and not just a personal website? Because AILLA will store my data longterm, making sure the recordings are safeguarded against data decay and digital obscelence. This means that in the future, when Tlacochahuaya Zapotec changes (as all languages do) or if it ceases to be spoken, we will still have a record of how it was spoken in 2018. Maintaining data is a lot of work, so to close, I’d like to thank the lovely folks at AILLA for their help setting up my collection. Give your archivist a (consensual) hug today!

Want to know more? Here are some more resources about archiving: