Soteapanec, spoken in the southern part of the state of Veracruz, Mexico, is one of seven surviving Zoquean languages believed to be descended from the Olmecs. One of three Gulf Zoquean languages, Soteapanec is spoken by approximately 30,000 individuals, whereas its sister languages, Ayapanec (with 200 speakers) and Texistepec (with only 2 speakers), are extremely endangered. Therefore, of the three languages, Soteapanec is the only Gulf Zoquean language that can contribute up-to-date documentation supporting both historical and linguistic research as well as materials for use in language maintenance projects.
This dissertation project consists of linguistic field research and language documentation. The methodology centers on the collection and analysis of recorded texts, both audio and video, in a variety of genres, such as personal experiences; traditional stories; ethno-medical descriptions of illness and treatment; and natural conversation. The audio and video recordings will be archived at the Archive of Indigenous Languages of Latin America at the University of Texas and copies will remain with the communities where the language is spoken to support language documentation efforts. This research project will be of interest to general linguistics, anthropology, archaeology and related fields because the grammar will provide a body of data and descriptive analysis that is useful to research in theoretical linguistics, to research on Mixe-Zoquean languages, especially the Gulf branch, and to historical investigations on the languages of Meso-America. The grammar will contribute to the development of language-related projects including language revitalization efforts in the communities where Soteapanec is spoken. In this respect, this research project makes contributions on a local social level to speakers of the language and on a scientific level to a broad range of disciplines in the behavioral sciences.