Hilaria Cruz is a linguist and a native speaker of San Juan Quiahije Chatino, an endangered Zapotecan language, spoken in Oaxaca, Mexico. She earned her PhD in linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Kentucky. She is a founding member of the Chatino Language Documentation Project, a group that documents and studies the language with the aim to both advance linguistics and respect the wishes of the Chatino people by promoting and honoring their language. Her research interests include morphology, corpus linguistics, language documentation and revitalization, and verbal art.


How to Write Chatino Right, Right Now

Post-colonial educational public policies that compel public schools to teach using western languages, such as Spanish, English, or Portuguese, have proven to be an effective tool in eradicating the vast linguistic and cultural diversity on the American continent. Chatino speakers in Mexico have been working since 2003 to reverse Chatino language loss by conducting scientific studies on the language, creating pedagogical materials, promoting Chatino on social media, and leading writing workshops in Chatino communities. Chatino speakers have also confronted misperceptions by Spanish speakers that indigenous languages are not real languages and, in doing so, have demonstrated that Chatino and other indigenous languages are as equipped for communication as any other language.

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