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tah tsoh

We’re nearly halfway through the month of May, which is today’s Navajo word.

Take the latter part of this word, “-tsoh”; this fragment is a relatively common word that is a reference to things that are “big” or “large” in size. As the April (T’ą́ą́chil) plants started small, the plants and leaves have grown bigger.

We are in the last month of Spring.

nóomba (11-20)

Navajo numbers 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20

nohm bah

Here’s the next series of the Navajo number system.

Since you’re familiar with the base numbers 1-9, to create the “teen” numbers simply append “-ts’áadah” to the end of those numbers. Once you get to 20, as with any multiple of 10 up to 90, this attachment becomes “-diin”. See:

  • 11 - ła’ts’áadah
  • 12 - naakits’áadah
  • 13 - táá’ts’áadah
  • 14 - dį́į́’ts’áadah
  • 15 - ashdla’ts’áadah
  • 16 - hastą́ts’áadah
  • 17 - tsost’idts’áadah
  • 18 - tseebííts’áadah
  • 19 - náhást’éíts’áadah
  • 20 - naadiin

Notice how t’ááłá’í can be shortened to ła’. In some cases, you may also notice with numbers 15 and 16 that some people tend to leave out the “-ts’-” pronunciation.

Take the weekend to practice these and see how you similar they are to the base 10 numbers.

da' dóó ya'

question marker

dah / yah

Today, we’ll introduce two more ways to ask questions. As a general rule, da’ precedes the sentence, and ya’ follows it – but you only need to use one.

Da’ is a simple way to create a yes/no question. You would say a regular statement, like “John is going to the store,” and by attaching da’ before the entire sentence it would become “Is John going to the store?”

Ya’ means roughly, “right?” Using the same sentence as above, it would become “John is going to the store, right?”

When you say these words, some people may have a tendency to raise the inflection of the voice like you would in English. But in Navajo, keep the voice normal (don’t raise it) and people will know that you’re asking a question.

Glottal stops are abrupt stops that happen when the glottis in the throat closes briefly, stopping air from exiting through the mouth.# December 2012


flowing downward

ud dah ee lih

This is the word used to describe something that is flowing downward. The first part of the word, adah (or sometimes hadah), denotes the downward direction. For example, water (tó) from melting snow (yas) flows downward from the mountain (dził). Smoke may flow downward into a valley and settle there. Or, it may be fog, or clouds that flow.

A slight variation of this word is Adahwiilíní, which is the name for the Grand Falls located West of Leupp, AZ. This can be considered a proper noun, or it can also be applied to other waterfalls.


path, trail, road

uh tyeen

The Navajo word atiin refers to a path, such as a trail or road.

This word can also be expressed as bitiin, which means “its road (or path, or trail). This is the case when you’re speaking of an animal’s trail, or even a railroad (the road for trains).

Let’s say you want to tell your friend, Tim, that the road to Flagstaff is good:

Tim, Kinłánígóó atiin yá’áhoot’ééh.

Notice the -gó particle that we demonstrated earlier to reference the direction of Flagstaff. Also notice the variation of the word yá’át’ééh, which uses the -ho particle in reference to a physical area or spacial description.