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níłch'i naalkidí

television, tv

nih-lth chih nahl kid dih

The first part of this phrase refers to something that is carried by air — common translations are “air” itself and “spirit”. The latter part is a combination of particles that each approximate to “seen with the eyes” and “that which is moving”.

Together, the phrase in its entirety is understood to mean television. So, you could say it literally means “air movie”. If this is confusing to you, just think about tv stations that were broadcasted over the air, as opposed to the newer cable tv and internet tv. The television set is the physical manifestation of these “air movies” so it inherits this name. But today, most Navajo people just call any television set níłch’i naalkidí.

Have a great Nda’iiníísh, and weekend!


copy or duplicate

eh el yah

The Navajo language uses this word in conversation to mean a copy, or a duplicate.

In addition to these meanings, it has also come to be understood as a picture of varying types, be it a drawing, painting, or a photograph. Of course, there are separate phrases which are more specific, but éé’élyaa is meant to be general if it is in reference to pictures. Being copies of actual things, they fit the usage for the word.

There are two remarkably similar words, which will be given here just for differentiation’s sake: é’élyaa and éé’ályaa, which each approximate to “a process” and “clothing was made,” respectively.

So there you have it, THREE words for you to study and memorize! Have a great Thursday!

Łees'áán Yílzhódí

Milky Way Galaxy

lth-eh sah nh yil zhoh dih

Literal meaning: the cake (baked in ash) that is dragged along.

If you’ve ever looked up into the sky on a clear night, in a place far from city lights, you’ve probably seen the speckled band of the Milky Way. Łees’áán yílzhódí is one of the Navajo names for the Milk Way.

Łees’áán is a specific type of cake that is either baked underground or in an outdoor oven. If you can imagine bits and pieces of the cake and ash being broken off whilst being dragged against something (yílzhódí), then you have the idea behind the name for the Milky Way. It’s as if someone grabbed a piece and dragged it across the sky, leaving the stars and the specks in its wake.


to speak

yah-sh tyih

Today’s word is the first-person form (the “I” form) of the verb ‘to speak.’ What is meant by form? Well, Navajo action-words are commonly altered according to the point-of-view of the speaker. For example, the speaker can change the word to refer to “I” or “You” or “He” or “Us two” and so forth. All the different forms of a verb are collectively referred to as a conjugation, or verb paradigm. Observe:

  1. Yáshti’
  2. Yáníłti’
  3. Yáłti’
  4. Yéiilti’
  5. Yáłti’
  6. Yáłti’
  7. Yádeiilti’
  8. Yádaałti’
  9. Yádaałti’

In English:

  1. I talk/speak
  2. You speak
  3. He speaks
  4. You and I speak
  5. You and he speak
  6. He and Her speak
  7. We three speak
  8. You three speak
  9. They three speak (note: 7, 8, and 9 are also used with groups of more than three people).

You’ll notice that some of the Navajo forms of the word are the same. This is not always the case (see the conjugation for nishłį́). There are more advanced forms of these verbs of the fourth-person point-of-view. But, these are used in reference to the more abstract, like spirits, the Navajo holy people, or deeply traditional beings.


recently or lately

uh knee dih

Yá’át’ééh! Today’s Navajo word approximates to “recently” or “lately” in English. In conversational usage, it is usually said before the rest of the sentence.

There is another word that is similar: ániid (no high tones on the long-i). It similarly means “new” or “fresh” and is used to describe objects instead of a moment in time.