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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.

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