Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

G. Hubert Matthews


This thesis explores the nature and content of a comparative data base for the Zapotec languages of Mexico that may be produced. Many questions are discussed: how to sub-divide and list the Zapotec languages and dialects; what data format will be most accessible to researchers as well as to field workers with data to add; computer software considerations (designing computational tools); how to handle non-cognates with shared meanings, non-overlap of glosses (i.e., one Zapotec gloss covers several Spanish words, or vice versa), semantic shifts and secondary meanings, and other problems such as special characters, free variation, elisions, etc.; whether to use phonetic or phonemic data forms, or some other form; what form of verbs will be useful to the study of Zapotec; and how to index and cross-index the data. While the answers to these questions, as discussed here, pertain specifically to the Zapotec languages, it is hoped that the questions themselves can also be taken as a guideline for application by other linguists who may be planning similar projects in other languages.