Nááhai

Here is a Navajo word that reflects the passage of time. It means “year” in reference to the complete passage of one year.

Preceded by a number, such as naadiin ła’ (21), nááhai becomes “years” and, in this case, would mean “(for) 20 21 years”.

Shinááhai is a way to saying “my years” as in “I am 21 years old” (naadiin ła’ shinááhai – 21 [are] my years). Change this to ninááhai or binááhai and you have “your years” or “his/her/its years”, respectively.

“Díkwíí-shą’ ninááhai?” “What about you – how much are your years?”

Naa’ahóóhai

The word naa’ahóóhai translates to chicken.

“Naa’ahóóhai séłt’é” is how you would say “I cooked chicken.”

This word is also used to describe other fowl, for example “naa’ahóóhaiłbáhí” or ‘gray chicken’ means partridge.

Another usage for this word is rodeo.

Chicken pulls, in which a horseback rider races by a buried chicken and attempts to snatch it up, were a popular event at the early emergence of rodeo contests among Navajos.

Used for rodeo, naa’ahóóhai can be truncated to simply ahóóhai.

Nila

This is a Navajo saying that means “it’s up to you” or “you decide what will happen/be done”. “You decide if you’ll learn.” “You decide how long to water the grass.” etc.

Generally, this is a way of way of making someone responsible for their own actions, and is a prevalent feature in a family unit.

Táá hó’ájit’éégóó is another way of saying this. You’re most likely to hear this being used from parent to a child, or a leader to the people he serves, or in most cases where a person is being encouraged to make well-rounded decisions.

Note: níláh, in the midst of frustration or irritation, can mean “get away!” or “leave me alone” – you’ll have to take into account the high tones and the context

Jooł yikalí

This past weekend there was a football game at the Beyoncé concert.

And we know the word for a game of football: Jooł yitalí – kicking of a ball with the foot

Which was played in a stadium: bii’nda’a’néhé – within it you play

But the electricity went out: atsiniltł’ish neeztsiz – electricity it turned off

Atsá Biyáázh

The great thing about today’s word is that we’ve covered these terms before!

Remember the word yázhí – or “little one”/”son”/”young”? As we explained in that post, another acceptable form of the word is yáázh. Couple that with the possessive identifier bi-, and you get biyáázh meaning “her little one(s)”.

It may be confusing at first, but the possessive shi- / ni- / bi- (as in bicheii – his grandfather) is gender neutral. It can refer to any gender. In the case of yázhí, it refers to the mother (female), as mothers call their young yáázh.

Atsá comes from the list of birds we included in tsídii. It refers to the eagle.

So together we have “eagle its(her)-baby” in reference to eaglets. It’s the Navajo name for the month of February, so named because eaglets have been known to hatch during this period.