From the Navajo speaker’s point of view, nówehjí is a direction away from him or her. It’s like saying “further that way” or “in that direction” while pointing with your lips or an extended arm. [Note: Navajo people generally do not point with only their index finger. Instead, all fingers are extended so none are pointing back towards the speaker.]
“The couch that is sitting furthest away is brand new.”
“I want to train the horse that is in the stall that is further that way.”
You can use it to point to any direction from the speaker, including fixed points. For example:
“Harold works further out beyond Farmington (on the other side of Farmington).”
For “further beyond [place]” you can use nówehgóó.
Nówehjį’ (no closing high tone, a glottal stop) is a little more commanding, meaning “move out of the way.”
In Navajo, tł’óó’ refers to the outdoors. It’s not exactly nature-focused – as in The Great Outdoors – but more like ‘outside’. Tł’óó’ is also in contrast to saying something like “the outside lane of the highway.”
It is almost always used by adding the suffix -di (which signifies “at”) to form the word tł’óo’di. This is used to say things like “He is walking around outside” or “They are cooking outside.”
Another way to use this word is with the -góó suffix (signifying “toward(s)”). Tł’óó’góó simply means “in the direction of the outside”, such as towards a door or outlet of some sort.
Between these two words, notice how you can blend the suffixes into the main word. Something that is normal tone, like -di, can change a preceding óó to óo – a falling tone. This makes speaking more ‘fluid-like’.
This is a way to describe luck in Navajo. It means “You’re lucky” if used in this way.
T’áá íyisíí (áyisíí) nízhánee’ is a way of saying ‘You are a really lucky person!’ – in other words, when something very good happens to someone.
There are also the words shízhánee’ (I am lucky), bizhánee’ (he/she/it is lucky), and nihízhánee’ (we, or you all, are lucky).
In the traditional context, how fortunate one is is affected by their conduct in life, and is less about pure luck with no ability to affect the outcome.
One particular usage of this word is Shizhané’é, which is a round dance commonly performed during an Enemy Way ceremony. The ceremony itself is said to purify one of the evil one obtains in warfare. The Navajo tale of the warrior twins tells of Monster Slayer’s return from his journey of conquering the giant monsters. He began to suffer from psychological changes from fighting, so he underwent the ceremony.
In this way, you can begin to understand that Navajo luck leaves a lot of room for us, as humans, to affect the outcome of things we do not fully control.
The word gah in navajo means rabbit. Gahtsoh, or big rabbit, refers to a jackrabbit (which is actually a hare).
There are many stories about gah and mą’ii (coyote), especially when it comes to the latter hunting the former. In nearly all cases, gah continually taunts mą’ii and then proceeds to devise an escape if he is trapped.
In one instance, coyote was out all day trying to catch a rabbit for food. One rabbit decided to play with coyote, so he went out into the open where he would be seen. Coyote spotted him and immediately pursued rabbit all over. But rabbit was getting tired so he hopped right into a hole in the ground.
Coyote reached in as far as he could, all the while shouting that he was going to eat the rabbit. Rabbit, still playing with mą’ii, cried back, “I’m going to die! You are going to eat me! How will you kill me?”
“By using a big stick! I’ll twist your fur and pull you out that way!” Coyote explained as he rushed away to find his stick. He came rushing back, plunging the stick into the hole in the ground. Rabbit was still having fun, though.
Every time, rabbit grabbed the stick and held on until coyote almost had him within reach. Then he would let go and coyote would tumble backwards. Coyote stopped after half a day of trying. Finally, rabbit shouted back, “I’m going to die! You are going to eat me! How will you kill me?”
“I’ll smoke you out of your hole with some pitch!” Coyote replied. He rushed off and returned shortly with a pile of wood and some pitch. Arranging it all over the rabbit’s burrow, he lit everything on fire. Rabbit cried out, “You’re killing me! Make it bigger!”
Coyote blew onto the fire and it grew, and still rabbit cried out, “More! Make it hotter! I am almost dead!” So coyote obliged and leaned in further towards the fire and blew harder to make it bigger. “You’re almost there!” yelled rabbit over the flames.
Coyote was at last as close as he could get to the flames, blowing frantically to make it bigger. Rabbit finally said, “There! You got it!” and coyote’s face perked up, anticipating rabbit’s exit. Inside the burrow, rabbit quickly charged towards the coals, shooting out of the burrow and sending pieces of coal into coyote’s face. Coyote cried out and rabbit got away.
This is how, they say, coyote got the dark spots on his face.