NavajoWOTD

łitso

yellow

lth-ih tsoh

The Navajo word łitso is commonly translated directly as yellow. Whereas the English word is an adjective, in Navajo it is a state. So łitso, as with all other Navajo colors, operates as a verb.

This is why łitso comes at the end of statements. For example, “Chidí éí łitso” is the same thing as “the car is yellow.” The word “chidíłtsooí” is “the car that is yellow.”

A plural form of this word is daaltso – they (3rd person) are yellow – and is sometimes used instead of the actual thing they are describing. “The yellow ones” can refer, for instance, to the yellow m&ms if they are the only notable yellow objects around.

There is a similar word łitsxo. That extra ‘x’ forces the word to be pronounced with more force resulting in an amplification of sorts. In this case, it refers, more or less, to an intense yellow, or orange-colored.

sha'shin

maybe, I think

shah shin

The Navajo word sha’shin comes at the end of a statement and is translated commonly as “maybe” or “I think”.

In speaking, it sounds also like the ‘a’ is nasalized, like shą’shin. -shą’ itself is a particle that is used to mean “what about…?” (eg. “Nishą’?” – “What about you?”).

Most of the time, it relies on context. For example, you and a friend are noticing students outside of school during the day. One turns to the other and says “I guess it’s spring break.” Other needs for ‘maybe’ (eg. “There are maybe/about 30 sheep in his flock.”) have other more appropriate forms, like daats’í.

atah

basic body parts

Here are a few parts of the body that are easily recognizable. These terms aren’t always applied to humans or animals. For example, chidí bitsiits’iin is literally “the vehicle, its head” and it refers to the engine. These are in the third person:

  • bíla’ – his hand
  • bigaan – his arm
  • bikee’ – his foot
  • bijáád – his leg
  • bijaa’ – his ear
  • bik’os – his neck
  • bigod – his knee
  • bikétsíín – his ankle
  • bitsiits’iin – his head

The first person and second person (i.e. “my hand” and “your hand”) are formed by changing the bi- particle to either shi- or ni-. So shikee’ would be “my foot” and nijaa’ would be “your ear”.

dąą

spring

dahh

It is Spring! For the northern hemisphere, technically, Spring is underway. However, in the Navajo sense of the word, Spring doesn’t quite begin until the Winter storms have subsided and new growth starts becoming widespread.

In some places, you may also hear daan, or dąąn, or maybe da’an. It’s hard to pin down exactly where this word comes from, but it may be connected to the group of phrases that refer to the early phase of growth or fertility. This season is often not noted widely among many Navajo because it may be considered part of summer (three seasons vs. four seasons).

azee'

medicine

uh zeh

This is the Navajo word for medicine. Azee’ is a derivative of the Navajo word for mouth, which is azéé’, since many medicines are taken orally.

Azee’ ííł’íní is like saying “the one that makes medicine” and is indicative of an occupation in the medical field.

Azee’ ál’į́ is also a way you can say “medical hospital”.

Since azee’ derives from azéé’, it can also take on other meanings. For example, azee’ dích’íí’ is a reference to chili, which is something that makes the mouth bitter or feel harsh.

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