Life-form Overlap in San Lucas Quiaviní Zapotec Plant Taxonomy
Tri-College (Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Swarthmore Colleges). Department of Linguistics
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This paper provides preliminary evidence that in San Lucas Quiaviní Zapotec (SLQZ), an Otomanguean language of Oaxaca, Mexico, plant taxonomy exhibits a unique system wherein life-form classes overlap significantly. Though similar findings have been recorded in other varieties of Zapotec, no comparable ethnobiological investigation in any Tlacolula Valley languages has yet been carried out. In this taxonomic system, plant life-form classes are defined by appearance and utility. When a single variety of plant exhibits more than one of these traits, it is often classified as a part of each of these groupings, breaking the foundational rules of Linnaean and non-Linnaean taxonomy. The data used in this analysis was collected from corpora created with the aim of language revitalization as well as from talks with Dr. Felipe H. Lopez, an L1 speaker of SLQZ. As the scope of these corpora is presently rather limited, the latter section of the thesis proposes several field work methods which can be used to more accurately record taxonomic information in SLQZ in the future.