Arte en lengua zapoteca

A 16th century grammar of Colonial Valley Zapotec by Friar Juan de Cordova.

About the Arte en lengua zapoteca

The Arte is a grammar of Colonial Valley Zapotec published in 1578, a decade before the first grammar of English was published. It was written by Juan de Cordova, a Spanish priest in the Dominican order, although, like other Spanish clergy working with indigenous languages, Cordova relied on the help of native speakers of Zapotec. Unfortunately, little is known about these helpers, which means that we do not know precisely what variety of Zapotec the Arte records. Cordova wrote his Arte like a Latin grammar, making it difficult for modern readers to understand the structure of the text. In order to illuminate the content of the text, modern headings are given alongside Cordova's original section titles. Despite the Arte's shortcomings, it remains an important source for knowledge about Colonial Valley Zapotec.

Images courtesy of John Carter Brown Library and