Dił

The Navajo word dił refers blood.

In earlier Navajo society, blood was not the basis for determining one’s relations among the Diné — that was the purpose of clans. Today, the Navajo tribe issues Certificates of Indian Blood that measure blood quantum of enrolled tribal members. Naturally, Navajo families are beginning to rely more upon blood relations than clan relations.

Besides the literal aspect of dił, there are some implied meanings in ceremonial usage. Dił, being red, is often grouped together with black (if you can recall, the fire god is also called “the Black God” when translated to English). There is also the name for the traditional Navajo First World that is known as Red world. It is symbolic in many cases of both fertility and of destruction, and the cycle as a whole.

There is also the the traditional Navajo story of a group of animals that asked woodpecker to kill the owl. It is said that the animals that wear red on their coats, like the reddish-colored bellies of some squirrels, were part of that group, the red being the blood of the owl.

A modern understanding and examination of blood and genetic diversity has led to the discovery among Navajo people of a rare hereditary condition known as xeroderma pigmentosum. This condition is significantly more common among Navajo than the wider population (about 1 in 30,000 vs. 1 in 250,000).

As you may now see, dił is one of many Navajo words that are evolving to encompass a contemporary meaning. Although direct translations are becoming common practice, the underlying implied meanings of Navajo - and for that matter any indigenous - words can be lost in translation.

Without a broader understanding of dił, it would be hard for one to tell why dił is part of the word for the stars and the rest of the universe - yádiłhił.

T’áá’áko

In Navajo, t’áá’áko is translated in a variety of ways. In general, it’s a term that denotes something agreeable, or an accord of some sort.

It could mean ‘okay,’ ‘fine,’ ‘alright,’ ‘it’s good,’ or ‘it’s agreeable.’ That’s the general idea.

A simple phrase would be: “Shił t’áá’áko,” meaning “It’s alright with me.”

In question form, you could use the -ísh- particle to inquire if something is agreeable, such as an action or condition. “Shíká anilyeed, t’áásh’áko?” is another informal phrase meaning “You will help me, won’t you?” You can get a sense of what the term conveys.

Remember, in conversation a person may begin a sentence with ya’ or else end the statement with da’ in order to ask a question. These are the ways you can ask questions with the expected answer being a yes or no.

Awáalya

This (in my opinion) fun word to say actually means jail in Navajo.

"At the jail" uses the -di suffix to construct awáalyadi. Combined with yá’át’ééh and the spatial particle -ho- (from the post for atiin - path, road, trail), you can say “Awáalyadi shił yá’áhoot’ééh,” which means “I like it at the jail.”

In the case that you do not like the jail, negate it using the doo … da construct: “Awáalyadi doo shił yá’áhoot’éeh da,” or “I do not like it at the jail.” Change the shił part to either nił or bił when speaking in the second person or third person, respectively.

Navajo loves to make nouns out of action words using nominalizers, as explained before (see: naat’áanii, bik’áá’dah’asdáhí, and Wááshindoon Aląąjį’ Dahsidáhígíí). But in awáalya’s case, saying awáalyaí (or awáalyaaí) refers to those that are in the jail. This would be the incarcerated people.

As for the jailer, he would be called awáálya yaa áhályáanii, which is like saying “the one who keeps the wisdom for the jail” (variations in translation exist).

Át’ahálo

Át’ahálo is a Navajo expression that means “wait!” It’s a way of saying, “hold on” or “sit tight” without needing the entire set of conjugated verbs for “to wait.”

In speech, it is sometimes shortened to either át’ah or t’ahálo.

The word áłtsé also has a second meaning of “wait” but is primarily used to denote the first in a series of either nouns or actions. So both words can be used in the same sentence (e.g. “Wait, we will eat first.”).

Woshch’ishjí

Following up with the Navajo word nówehjí (further away; move!), is its opposing direction woshch’ishjí (or woshch’ishí).

It means ‘this way’ or ‘closer’.

A common way to use this word is woshch’ishígíí, which means ‘that which is closer by’. It’s a general term and can be clarified by preceding it with an object (noun). For example, “chidí woshch’ishígíí” takes on the meaning “the vehicle that is closer (or closest).”

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