Níłtsą́

Since the monsoon season is revving up and we’ll be hitting some monsoon season weather, today’s Navajo word, níłtsą́, refers to the rain.

Somewhat similarly, and because you didn’t get a word yesterday, the Navajo word for hail is níló.

Of course you’ll recall this post for wind (wind, wind?, wind!), which is still somewhat similar – níyol.

But we’re not done there; remember this post for November, and how it uses the word for air? The Navajo word for air is níłchi (or níłch’i – also a word for benevolent spirits).

Guess what the Navajo word for cloud is…nímbus! ha ha! But really it’s k’os. ”Wouldn’t it be ník’os,” you may ask yourself. No. People will probably guess that you’re saying “your knee”.

Níłtsą́ bi’áád describes a modern-day bathroom shower.

Hazhó’ógo

Dovetailing from yesterday’s word example, hazhó’ógo is Navajo for “slowly” or “carefully”. You might recognize part of this word from ‘baa shił hózhǫ́’, specifically the root -zhó. They share the connotation of something that exhibits great care or beauty.

There is also hazhóó’ógo – with the leading ó being drawn out. This is like saying “slowly”, by actually saying the word slower. “Hazhóó’ógo yááłti’” is telling someone “I spoke slowly”.

So now you have more context for one of yesterday’s examples: t’áadoo hazhó’ó. It’s essentially conveying the idea that something, be it an act or noun, doesn’t exhibit much care in the way it is held together

Note the trailing -go particle. This is also another hard-to-translate part of Navajo speech.

T’áadoo

The basic idea behind the Navajo word t’áadoo is that it serves to negate, much like doo…da. However, t’áadoo seems to impart a more subjective definite type of negative thought than the doo..da construction.

For most verbs, the word comes before the subject, object, and verb (in simple sentences at the very beginning), and the affected verb is nominalized with a -í. So “Don’t do that” (annoyed response) could be said “T’áadoo baa nanináhí!”. Keep in mind that not every instance of t’áadoo should be interpreted as a rankled reaction.

There are a few simple phrases with concrete meanings. T’áadoo le’é translates almost always into “things”. T’áadoo hazhó’ó is like saying “poorly (done)” or “not very well”.

You’ll notice that Navajo words with the t’áá- particle are hard to directly translate into English, due to its being used in many different ways.

Góyaa

The Navajo word góyaa describes an action directed downwards or ‘down-along’ (a road), or down into something (like a canyon).

The stem yaa carries the concept of ‘down’, and is in contrast to ‘up’ which is dei.

The pronunciation here is not exact to its spelling. Sometimes góyaa is spelled hóyaa, or hxóyaa, or hwóyaa, or even ghóyaa. All of these spellings mean that the ‘g’ is not hard.

You can practice by keeping your tongue from coming into full contact with the roof of your mouth – as in a hard g. As you go through the motions, air passes through the space between your tongue and the roof of your mouth.

Differences in pronunciation are regional but are understood between the way Navajo ‘g’s, ‘h’s, ‘s’s are emphasized from one area to another.

Sédá

The Navajo word sédá is an action or condition of sitting. It is not the same as saying “the rock is sitting on the stove” – for that you’d use another ‘resting’ verb with a particle describing the rock. It relates to people, and therefore uses several forms to relate the speaker to the subject(s).

A group of these similar forms are commonly referred to as ‘conjugations’, and is one of the features of the Navajo verb. Here is the conjugation for sédá:

  • séda (1s)
  • sínídá (2s)
  • sidá (3s)
  • siiké (1d)
  • sooké (2d)
  • siké (3d)
  • naháatą́ (1p)
  • nahisóotą́ (2p)
  • naháaztą́ (3p)

Each word is marked with its point-of-view: 1) me, I, we, us; 2) you, both of you, you all; 3) he/she/it, them, they. ‘S’ marks singular (just one), ‘D’ marks dual (two people), and ‘P’ marks plural (three or more).

Here are a few examples:

Bikáá’ dahasdáhí bikáá’ dah sidá. (She is sitting on a chair)

Kwe’é sédá. (I am seated here)

Hookee sédá (“house-sitting” or taking care of a house)