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ah hyeh hih shee

Ahééhíshííh (or ahééhíshį́į́h) is a Navajo name for California.

It is also known to be Phoenix, AZ.

The root in this word is shį́į́, which conveys the idea of the summer season. The complete word equates roughly to “summer all-year-long”.

To declare a city in California, you could say “Mountain Viewgi Ahééhíshį́įhdi”. Similarly, declaring a place in Phoenix follows the same convention, “ASUgi Ahééhíshį́į́hdi”. Using -gi and -di requires that you go from specific to more general.

hádą́ą́' dóó hahgo

when in the past

hah dah & hah goh

One of the ways to express “when?” in Navajo is hádą́ą́’. You may recognize that -dą́ą́’ (ą́ą́’) particle which, like jį́į́dą́ą́’, refers to the past.

It effectively means “when in the past?”. This is separate from the way to say “when (in the future)?” in Navajo, which is hahgo.

Hádą́ą́’ Lucy Grand Canyongóó naayá? [When did Lucy go and get back from the Grand Canyon?]

In reply, you could use jį́į́dą́ą́, like in that post’s example. Or, to use “days ago” simply say the number of days, and then “yiskáńdą́ą́’”.

Díí’iskáńdą́ą́’ naayá. [Four days ago she went and came back.]


lizard or reptile

nah ush shoh ee

During the summer months here in the Southwest, lizards emerge. Their Navajo name, na’ashǫ́’ii, can refer to practically any reptile. But, it originally refers to anything that creeps along.

There are many types of lizards and only a few that have well known designations. For example, a large green lizard - sometimes with banded yellow undersides - would be referred to as na’ashǫ́’ii dootł’izhí.

The horned toad is also another recognizable lizard known as na’ashǫ́’ii dich’ízhii. (ch’ízhii is a descriptor that refers to something, mostly living, that is dry, cracked, ashy, etc.) The horned toad is called ‘grandpa’ by many Navajo, which is a name that comes from cultural stories.

Since it’s so similar, here is the word for spider: na’ashjé’ii. Yee-yah.


to go and return

nih seh yah

Navajo has different words for “to go”, “to return” and “to go and return”. The word from the example yesterday, niséyá, is the first-person singular (“I”) for “to go and return”.

Here is the rest of the verb conjugation for niséyá:

  • niséyá (I went and came back)
  • nisíníyá (You went and came back)
  • naayá (He/she/it went and came back)
  • nishiit’áázh (We two …)
  • nishoo’áázh (You two …)
  • naazh’áázh (Those two …)
  • nisiikai (Us 3+ …)
  • nisoohkai (You 3+ …)
  • naaskai (They 3+ …)

Keep in mind that this is the form of the word that means an action has been carried out to completion - which is part of the way verbs are expressed in Navajo.

Any of these words can be swapped for niséyá in yesterday’s example to change between “I”, “you”, “they”, etc.


the part of the day that has passed

jee dah

Here is the Navajo word that designates a time in the past, specifically the part of the day that’s already gone.

You’ll notice some similarities to some previous words, like damóo yę́ędą́ą́’ (last sunday, last week) and dííjį́ (today, this day). With jį́į́dą́ą́’ you have the root from dííjį́ combined with the -dą́ą́’ particle to create a meaning that’s like saying “the (part of the) day that’s gone by”.

In conversation, you’ll hear this word commonly said at the beginning of the statement, or “today we did…etc.”.

Jį́į́dą́ą́’ Tségháhoodzánígóó niséyá. (Earlier today I went to [and came back from] Window Rock.)