1. Facts
  2. Sources of the data
  3. Orthography
  4. Verbal inflection
  5. Inflectional classes by affixation


Mitla Zapotec, also known as East Central Tlacolula Zapotec or East Valley Zapotec, is the Zapotec language spoken in the town of Mitla and its surroundings in the state of Oaxaca.

Sources of the data

Stubblefield, Morris and Carol Miller de Stubblefield. 1991. Diccionario Zapoteco de Mitla, Oaxaca. Mexico, D. F.: Instituto Lingüístico de Verano.

Note: The citation form given in the source is the 3rd person of the habitual. All forms carry the pronominal clitic for 3rd person informal =ni (when the stem ends in /n/, the two nasals in contact are realized as fortis n, represented by ń).

Some verbs are also rendered as "middle". This means that they express typical notions associated with middle voice, such as spontaneous events, reciprocal events, or reflexive events. Some verbs are also marked as "cause s- indirect". This means that the verbs are old causatives based on the causative prefix s- which renders indirect causation.


IPA notation
Source notation
Glotalized V V’
ʃ x
h j
Fortis n ń
Fortis ɾ ŕ
Fortis l ĺ
ɲ ñ
j y
g g/__a,o,u
k c/__a,o,u


Tone is not represented in the source.

Verbal inflection

Verbs in Mitla Zapotec inflect for various TAM values by means of prefixes. An example is given below for the verb rutääzni ‘hug’.

HAB ru-tääz
POT nu-tääz
PROG ca-gu-tääz
FUT-INDEF gu-tääz
FUT-DEF su-tääz
CPL ba-tääz

Inflectional classes by affixation

According to the source material, verbs in Mitla Zapotec fall into at least 10 different inflectional classes attending to the different prefix sets they select to construct the different TAM values.

Class Phonology of stem shape HAB POT PROG FUT-INDEF FUT-DEF CPL
I-a _X r- ni- ca- gi- si- bi-
I-b _rX ŕ - ni- ca- gi- si- bi-
II _i r- n- ca-y j- s- b-
III _ca r- ni- ca- x- s- cu-
IV-a _X r- ni- ca- gi- si- gu-
IV-b _ni/li>n/l> r- ni- ca- gi- si- gu-
V-a _V r- ni- ca-y g- (STEM change) s- g- (STEM change)
V-b _o/u r- ni- ca-y g- (STEM change) s- b- (STEM change)
VI-a _V r- ni- ca-y g- (STEM change) s- gu-y
VI-b _V r- ni- ca-y g- (STEM change) s- gu- (STEM change)
VII _V r- ni- ca-y ch- s- gu-y
VII (Irr) _V r- ni- ca- ch- (STEM change) s- hu-
VIII _C r- ni- ca- FORT si- gu- (STEM change)
IX _C ru- nu- ca-gu- gu- su- ba-
X LEX ri- ni- sa- cha- si- hui-

Note: There are different stem changes.

  • Verbs of Classes V and VI (and VII irregular) have a special stem for the FUT-INDEF, which is listed in the database.
  • Verbs of Classes V, VIb and VIII have a special stem for the CPL, which is also listed in the database.
  • The lenis onset of Class V verbal stems undergoes consonant mutation to fortis, whose surface realisations are also listed in the database.

The PROG of Class IX verbs is based on the prefix ca- associated with the inflected form for the FUT-INDEF.

Examples of verbs with some relevant morphology highlighted.

'fill' I-a rdxajni nidxajni cadxajni gidxajni sidxajni bdxajni
'collect' I-b ŕe’ni nire’ni care’ni gire’ni sire’ni bire’ni
'go in' II riu’ni niu’ni cayu’ni jiu’ni siu’ni biu’ni
'grab hold of' III rca’ni nica’ni caca’ni xca’ni sca’ni cuca’ni
'repeat' IV-a rnisacni ninisacni canisacni ginisacni sinisacni gunisacni
'ask for' IV-b rniabni niniabni canabni giniabni siniabni gunabni
'get wet' V-a rajdxni niajdxni cayajdxni gadxni sajdxni gujdxni
'grind' V-b ro’tni nio’tni cayo’tni go’tni so’tni ba’tni
'ripen' VI-a rajni niajni cayajni gaajni sajni guyajni
'eat' VI-b rajwni niajwni cayajwni gauni sajwni gudajwni
'go up' VII rä’pni niä’pni cayä’pni chä’pni sä’pni guyä’pni
'get up' VII (Irr) räjsni niäjsni cayäjsni chäsni säjsni huäjsni
'live' VIII rbäjzni nibäjzni cabäjzni cuääzni sibäjzni guläjzni
'fly' IX rutajtni nutajtni cagutajtni gutajtni sutajtni batajtni
'love' X rinälajzni ninälajzni sanälajzni chanälajzni sinälajzni huinälajzni