This special phrase is the Navajo version of “Happy Birthday (to you)”.
In the popular English tune (trivia: it’s copyrighted, amazingly) this phrase would take the place of the first line. In order to fit the tune, most high tones and nasal marks are disregarded, so it would resemble “The Birthday Song”. But, if you’re like me and you could never memorize the “correct” lyric translation then just mumble along and stick to the tune!
There are, of course, various other ways to express “happy birthday”, for example:
- this video expresses it – “Nidizhchíiji Ánááhoolzhiizhígíí Baa Shił Hózhǫ́”
- an unfinished entry at the Navajo wiki page says this – “hoʼdizhchínę́ęjį́ anáyííłką́”
Some of you are sure to have had a birthday recently, or will have one soon, or have one today. If not, we’re pretty sure you’ll have one in the next year or so. In which case, happy birthday to you.