Navajo language
Navajo or Navaho is an Athabaskan language
Athabaskan languages
Athabaskan or Athabascan is a large group of indigenous peoples of North America, located in two main Southern and Northern groups in western North America, and of their language family...

 (of Na-Dené
Na-Dené languages
Na-Dene is a Native American language family which includes at least the Athabaskan languages, Eyak, and Tlingit languages. An inclusion of Haida is controversial....

 stock) spoken in the southwestern United States
Southwestern United States
The Southwestern United States is a region defined in different ways by different sources. Broad definitions include nearly a quarter of the United States, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah...

. It is geographically and linguistically one of the Southern Athabaskan languages
Southern Athabaskan languages
Southern Athabaskan is a subfamily of Athabaskan languages spoken primarily in the North American Southwest with two outliers in Oklahoma and Texas...

 (the majority of Athabaskan languages are spoken in northwest Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...


Navajo has more speakers than any other Native American
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 language north of the U.S.-Mexico border, with 170,717 self-reported speakers in 2007, and this number has increased with time.

Language status

The American Community Survey
American Community Survey
The American Community Survey is an ongoing statistical survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, sent to approximately 250,000 addresses monthly . It regularly gathers information previously contained only in the long form of the decennial census...

 of 2007 reported 170,717 speakers of Navajo, making it the only Native American language to warrant a separate line in the statistical tables. The majority of speakers live on the Navajo Nation
Navajo Nation
The Navajo Nation is a semi-autonomous Native American-governed territory covering , occupying all of northeastern Arizona, the southeastern portion of Utah, and northwestern New Mexico...

. Of these, 2.9% were monolingual with no knowledge of English. The four metro- and micropolitan areas with the largest number of speakers were Farmington
Farmington, New Mexico
Farmington is a city in San Juan County in the U.S. state of New Mexico. As of the 2010 U.S. Census the city had a total population of 45,877 people. Farmington makes up one of the four Metropolitan Statistical Areas in New Mexico. The U.S...

 (16.5%), Gallup
Gallup, New Mexico
- Demographics :As of the census of 2000, there were 20,209 people, 6,810 households, and 4,869 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,513.7 people per square mile...

 (12%), Flagstaff
Flagstaff, Arizona
Flagstaff is a city located in northern Arizona, in the southwestern United States. In 2010, the city's population was 65,870. The population of the Metropolitan Statistical Area was at 134,421 in 2010. It is the county seat of Coconino County...

 (10.3%), and Albuquerque
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albuquerque is the largest city in the state of New Mexico, United States. It is the county seat of Bernalillo County and is situated in the central part of the state, straddling the Rio Grande. The city population was 545,852 as of the 2010 Census and ranks as the 32nd-largest city in the U.S. As...


A number of bilingual immersion schools operate within Navajo-speaking regions to preserve and promote usage of the language.


The following table lists the consonants of Navajo in the standard orthography, followed by their pronunciation in IPA
International Phonetic Alphabet
The International Phonetic Alphabet "The acronym 'IPA' strictly refers [...] to the 'International Phonetic Association'. But it is now such a common practice to use the acronym also to refer to the alphabet itself that resistance seems pedantic...

 notation in brackets:
Bilabial consonant
In phonetics, a bilabial consonant is a consonant articulated with both lips. The bilabial consonants identified by the International Phonetic Alphabet are:...

Alveolar consonant
Alveolar consonants are articulated with the tongue against or close to the superior alveolar ridge, which is called that because it contains the alveoli of the superior teeth...

Palatal consonant
Palatal consonants are consonants articulated with the body of the tongue raised against the hard palate...

Velar consonant
Velars are consonants articulated with the back part of the tongue against the soft palate, the back part of the roof of the mouth, known also as the velum)....

Glottal consonant
Glottal consonants, also called laryngeal consonants, are consonants articulated with the glottis. Many phoneticians consider them, or at least the so-called fricative, to be transitional states of the glottis without a point of articulation as other consonants have; in fact, some do not consider...

Central consonant
A central or medial consonant is a consonant sound that is produced when air flows across the center of the mouth over the tongue. The class contrasts with lateral consonants, in which air flows over the sides of the tongue rather than down its center....

Lateral consonant
A lateral is an el-like consonant, in which airstream proceeds along the sides of the tongue, but is blocked by the tongue from going through the middle of the mouth....

plain labialized
Labial consonant
Labial consonants are consonants in which one or both lips are the active articulator. This precludes linguolabials, in which the tip of the tongue reaches for the posterior side of the upper lip and which are considered coronals...

Stop consonant
In phonetics, a plosive, also known as an occlusive or an oral stop, is a stop consonant in which the vocal tract is blocked so that all airflow ceases. The occlusion may be done with the tongue , lips , and &...

plain [p] [t] [k] [ʔ]
Aspiration (phonetics)
In phonetics, aspiration is the strong burst of air that accompanies either the release or, in the case of preaspiration, the closure of some obstruents. To feel or see the difference between aspirated and unaspirated sounds, one can put a hand or a lit candle in front of one's mouth, and say pin ...

[tx] [kx] [kxʷ]
Ejective consonant
In phonetics, ejective consonants are voiceless consonants that are pronounced with simultaneous closure of the glottis. In the phonology of a particular language, ejectives may contrast with aspirated or tenuis consonants...

[tʼ] [kʼ]
Affricate consonant
Affricates are consonants that begin as stops but release as a fricative rather than directly into the following vowel.- Samples :...

plain [ts] dl [tˡ] [tʃ]
aspirated [tsʰ] [tɬʰ] [tʃʰ]
ejective [tsʼ] [tɬʼ] [tʃʼ]
A continuant is a sound produced with an incomplete closure of the vocal tract. That is, any sound except a stop or nasal. An affricate is considered to be a complex segment, composed of both a stop and a continuant.-See also:...

voiceless [s] [ɬ] [ʃ] [x] [xʷ] [h]
voiced [z] [l] [ʒ] [ɣ] [ɣʷ]
Nasal consonant
A nasal consonant is a type of consonant produced with a lowered velum in the mouth, allowing air to escape freely through the nose. Examples of nasal consonants in English are and , in words such as nose and mouth.- Definition :...

[m] [n]
Approximant consonant
Approximants are speech sounds that involve the articulators approaching each other but not narrowly enough or with enough articulatory precision to create turbulent airflow. Therefore, approximants fall between fricatives, which do produce a turbulent airstream, and vowels, which produce no...

[j] ( [w])

In Navajo orthography, the letter represents two different sounds: it is pronounced [x] when stem initial and [h] when prefixal or stem/word final. However, when [x] is preceded by it is always written as and never as so that it will not be confused with (e.g. "I'm turning around", but never ). The consonant [ɣ] is written as before front vowels and (where it is palatalized [ʝ]), as before (where it is labialized [ɣʷ]), and as before . The glottal stop is not written at the beginning of words.

For /ɣ/ , both the palatalization and labialization is represented in the orthography where it is written as for the palatalized variant and for the labialized variant. The orthography does not indicate the variants for the other consonants.


Navajo has four basic vowel qualities: a, e, i and o. Each of these may occur either short or long, and either non-nasalized (oral) or nasalized:
  • short, as in a and e
  • long, as in aa and ee
  • nasalized, as in ą and ę
  • nasalized long, as in ąą and ęę


Navajo has two tones, low and high. Syllables are low tone by default. With long vowels, these tones combine for four possibilities:
  • high, as in áá and éé,
  • low, as in aa and ee,
  • rising, as in and or
  • falling, as in áa and ée.

Various combinations of these features are possible, as in ą́ą́ (long, nasalized, high tone).


Linguistic typology
Linguistic typology is a subfield of linguistics that studies and classifies languages according to their structural features. Its aim is to describe and explain the common properties and the structural diversity of the world's languages...

, Navajo is an agglutinating
Agglutinative language
An agglutinative language is a language that uses agglutination extensively: most words are formed by joining morphemes together. This term was introduced by Wilhelm von Humboldt in 1836 to classify languages from a morphological point of view...

, polysynthetic
Polysynthetic language
In linguistic typology, polysynthetic languages are highly synthetic languages, i.e., languages in which words are composed of many morphemes. Whereas isolating languages have a low morpheme-to-word ratio, polysynthetic languages have extremely high morpheme-to-word ratios.Not all languages can be...

 head-marking language
Head-marking language
A head-marking language is one where the grammatical marks showing relations between different constituents of a phrase tend to be placed on the heads of the phrase in question, rather than the modifiers or dependents. In a noun phrase, the head is the main noun and the dependents are the...

, but many of its affix
An affix is a morpheme that is attached to a word stem to form a new word. Affixes may be derivational, like English -ness and pre-, or inflectional, like English plural -s and past tense -ed. They are bound morphemes by definition; prefixes and suffixes may be separable affixes...

es combine into contractions more like fusional language
Fusional language
A fusional language is a type of synthetic language, distinguished from agglutinative languages by its tendency to overlay many morphemes in a way that can be difficult to segment....

s. The canonical word order of Navajo is SOV. Athabaskan words are modified primarily by prefixes, which is unusual for an SOV language (suffixes are expected).

Navajo is a "verb-heavy" language — it has a great preponderance of verbs but relatively few nouns. In addition to verbs and nouns, Navajo has other elements such as pronoun
In linguistics and grammar, a pronoun is a pro-form that substitutes for a noun , such as, in English, the words it and he...

s, clitic
In morphology and syntax, a clitic is a morpheme that is grammatically independent, but phonologically dependent on another word or phrase. It is pronounced like an affix, but works at the phrase level...

s of various functions, demonstrative
In linguistics, demonstratives are deictic words that indicate which entities a speaker refers to and distinguishes those entities from others...

s, numerals
Number names
In linguistics, number names are specific words in a natural language that represent numbers.In writing, numerals are symbols also representing numbers...

, postpositions, adverb
An adverb is a part of speech that modifies verbs or any part of speech other than a noun . Adverbs can modify verbs, adjectives , clauses, sentences, and other adverbs....

s, and conjunction
Grammatical conjunction
In grammar, a conjunction is a part of speech that connects two words, sentences, phrases or clauses together. A discourse connective is a conjunction joining sentences. This definition may overlap with that of other parts of speech, so what constitutes a "conjunction" must be defined for each...

s, among others. Harry Hoijer
Harry Hoijer
Harry Hoijer was a linguist and anthropologist who worked on primarily Athabaskan languages and culture.He additionally documented the Tonkawa language, which is now extinct...

 grouped all of the above into a word-class which he called particles (i.e., Navajo would then have verbs, nouns, and particles). There is nothing that corresponds to what are called adjective
In grammar, an adjective is a 'describing' word; the main syntactic role of which is to qualify a noun or noun phrase, giving more information about the object signified....

in English: verbs provide the adjectival functionality.


The key element in Navajo is the verb
A verb, from the Latin verbum meaning word, is a word that in syntax conveys an action , or a state of being . In the usual description of English, the basic form, with or without the particle to, is the infinitive...

. Verbs are composed of an abstract stem to which inflection
In grammar, inflection or inflexion is the modification of a word to express different grammatical categories such as tense, grammatical mood, grammatical voice, aspect, person, number, gender and case...

al and/or derivational
Derivation (linguistics)
In linguistics, derivation is the process of forming a new word on the basis of an existing word, e.g. happi-ness and un-happy from happy, or determination from determine...

 prefixes are added. Every verb must have at least one prefix. The prefixes are affixed to the verb in a specified order.

The Navajo verb can be sectioned into different components. The verb stem is composed of an abstract root
Root (linguistics)
The root word is the primary lexical unit of a word, and of a word family , which carries the most significant aspects of semantic content and cannot be reduced into smaller constituents....

and an often fused suffix. The stem together with a "classifier" prefix (and sometimes other thematic prefixes) make up the verb theme. The thematic prefixes are prefixes that are non-productive
Productivity (linguistics)
In linguistics, productivity is the degree to which native speakers use a particular grammatical process, especially in word formation. Since use to produce novel structures is the clearest proof of usage of a grammatical process, the evidence most often appealed to as establishing productivity is...

, have limited derivational function, and no longer have a clearly defined meaning. Examples of thematic prefixes, include the archaic yá- prefix, which only occurs on the verb stem -tééh/-tiʼ meaning "to talk" as in yáłtiʼ "he's talking". The theme is then combined with derivational prefixes which in turn make up the verb base. Finally, inflectional prefixes (which Young & Morgan call "paradigmatic prefixes") are affixed to the base — producing a complete Navajo verb.

Verb template

The prefixes that occur on a Navajo verb are added in specified more or less rigid order according to prefix type. This type of morphology is called a position class template (or slot-and-filler template). Below is a table of a recent proposal of the Navajo verb template (Young & Morgan 1987). Edward Sapir
Edward Sapir
Edward Sapir was an American anthropologist-linguist, widely considered to be one of the most important figures in the early development of the discipline of linguistics....

 and Harry Hoijer were the first to propose an analysis of this type. A given verb will not have a prefix for every position. In fact, most Navajo verbs are not as complex as the template would seem to suggest: the maximum number of prefixes is around eight.

The Navajo verb is composed of a verb stem and a set of prefixes. The prefixes can be divided into a conjunct prefix set and disjunct prefix set. The disjunct prefixes occur on the outer left edge of the verb. The conjunct prefixes occur after the disjunct prefixes, closer to the verb stem. Two types of prefixes can be distinguished by their different phonological behavior.
disjunct prefixes conjunct prefixes stem

The prefix complex may be subdivided into 11 positions, with some of the positions having even further subdivisions:
disjunct prefixes conjunct prefixes stem
0 1a 1b 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
iterative plural direct object deictic adverbial-
subject classifier stem

Although prefixes are generally found in a specific position, some prefixes change order by the process of metathesis
Metathesis (linguistics)
Metathesis is the re-arranging of sounds or syllables in a word, or of words in a sentence. Most commonly it refers to the switching of two or more contiguous sounds, known as adjacent metathesis or local metathesis:...

. For example, prefix 'ʼa- (3i object pronoun) usually occurs before di-, as in
adisbąąs "I'm starting to drive some kind of wheeled vehicle along" [ < ʼa- + di- + sh- + ł + -bąąs].

However, when
'ʼa- occurs with the prefixes di- and ni-, the 'ʼa- metathesizes with di-, leading to an order of di- + 'ʼa- + ni-, as in
diʼnisbąąs "I'm in the act of driving some vehicle (into something) & getting stuck" [ < di-ʼa-ni-sh-ł-bąąs < ʼa- + di- + ni- + sh- + ł + -bąąs]

instead of the expected adinisbąąs (ʼa-di-ni-sh-ł-bąąs) (note also that 'ʼa- is reduced to 'ʼ-).

Although the verb template model of analysis has been traditionally used to describe the Navajo verb, other analyses have been proposed by Athabascanists.

Pronominal inflection

Navajo verbs have pronominal
Pronominal can be used either to describe something related to a pronoun or to mean a phrase that acts as a pronoun in the context of nominal. An example of the second case is, "I want that kind". The phrase "that kind" stands in for a noun phrase, or nominal, that can be deduced from context, and...

 (i.e. pronoun) prefixes that mark both subjects
Subject (grammar)
The subject is one of the two main constituents of a clause, according to a tradition that can be tracked back to Aristotle and that is associated with phrase structure grammars; the other constituent is the predicate. According to another tradition, i.e...

 and objects
Object (grammar)
An object in grammar is part of a sentence, and often part of the predicate. It denotes somebody or something involved in the subject's "performance" of the verb. Basically, it is what or whom the verb is acting upon...

. The prefixes can vary in certain modes, particularly the perfective mode (See Mode and Aspect section below for a discussion of modes). The prefixes are inflected
In grammar, inflection or inflexion is the modification of a word to express different grammatical categories such as tense, grammatical mood, grammatical voice, aspect, person, number, gender and case...

 according to person
Grammatical person
Grammatical person, in linguistics, is deictic reference to a participant in an event; such as the speaker, the addressee, or others. Grammatical person typically defines a language's set of personal pronouns...

 and number
Grammatical number
In linguistics, grammatical number is a grammatical category of nouns, pronouns, and adjective and verb agreement that expresses count distinctions ....

. The basic subject prefixes (and their abbreviations as used by Young & Morgan) are listed in the table below:
Number | Subject Prefixes | Object Prefixes
Singular Dual-Plural Singular Dual-Plural
First (1) -sh- -Vd- shi- nihi-
Second (2) ni- -oh- ni-
Third (3) -Ø- bi-
Third (3o) yi-
Fourth (3a) ji- ha- ~ ho-
Indefinite (3i) ʼa- ʼa-
Space (3s) ha- ~ ho- ha- ~ ho-
Reflexive (ʼá)-di-
Reciprocal ʼahi-

The subject prefixes occur in two different positions. The first and second subject prefixes (-sh-, -Vd-, ni-, -oh-) occur in position 8 directly before the classifier prefixes. The fourth, indefinite, and "space" subject prefixes (ji-, 'ʼa-, ha-~ho-) are known as "deictic subject pronouns" and occur in position 5. The third person subject is marked by the absence of a prefix, which is usually indicated with a zero prefix -Ø- in position 8. The object prefixes can occur in position 4 as direct objects, in position 1a as "null postpositions", or in position 0 as the object of postpositions that have been incorporated into the verb complex.

The fourth person subject prefix
ji- is a kind of obviative
Obviate third person person is a grammatical person marking that distinguishes a non-salient third person referent from a more salient third person referent in a given discourse context...

 third person. It refers primarily to persons or personified animals (unlike the regular third person). It has a number of uses including:
  • referring to the main character in narratives
  • distinguishing between two third person referents
  • referring politely or impersonally to certain socially-distant individuals (e.g. when speaking to opposite-sex siblings and relatives through marriage, giving admonitions, speaking of the dead)

When used as an impersonal, it may be translated into English as "one" as in béésh bee njinéego hálaʼ da jiigish "one can cut one's hand playing with knives". The "space" prefix can be translated as "area, place, space, impersonal it" as in halgai "the area/place is white" and nahałtin "it is raining". The prefix has two forms: ha- and ho- with ho- having derived forms such as hw- and hwi-.

An example paradigm for "to freeze" (imperfective mode) showing the subject prefixes:
Singular Dual-Plural
First yishtin "I freeze" yiitin "we (2+) freeze"
Second nitin "you freeze" wohtin "you (2+) freeze"
Third yitin "she/he/it/they freeze"
Fourth (3a) jitin "she/he/they freeze"
Indefinite (3i) atin "someone/something freezes"

Classifiers (transitivity prefixes)

The "classifiers" are prefixes of position 9 (the closest to the verb stem) that affect the transitivity
Transitive verb
In syntax, a transitive verb is a verb that requires both a direct subject and one or more objects. The term is used to contrast intransitive verbs, which do not have objects.-Examples:Some examples of sentences with transitive verbs:...

 of the verb, in that they are valence
Valency (linguistics)
In linguistics, verb valency or valence refers to the number of arguments controlled by a verbal predicate. It is related, though not identical, to verb transitivity, which counts only object arguments of the verbal predicate...

 and voice markers. Calling them "classifiers" is a misnomer, however, as they do not classify anything and are not related to the classificatory verb stems (which actually do classify nouns, see classificatory verbs below). There are four classifiers: -Ø-, -ł-, -d-, -l-. The -Ø- classifier is the absence of a prefix, which is usually indicated by a null morpheme.

-ł- classifier is a causative
In linguistics, a causative is a form that indicates that a subject causes someone or something else to do or be something, or causes a change in state of a non-volitional event....

-transitivizing prefix of active verbs. It often can transitivize an intransitive
-Ø- verb: yibéézh "it's boiling" (yi-Ø-béézh), yiłbéézh "he's boiling it (yi-ł-béézh); naʼniyęęsh "somethings flows about in a meandering fashion" (naʼni-Ø-yęęsh), naʼniłhęęsh "he's making it flow about in a meandering fashion" (naʼni-ł-yęęsh).

-d- classifier occurs in most passive, mediopassive, reflexive, and reciprocal verbs that are derived from verbs with a -Ø- classifier: yizéés "he's singing it" (yi-Ø-zéés), yidéés "it's being singed" (yi-d-zéés).

-l- occurs in most passive, mediopassive, reflexive, and reciprocal verbs that are derived from verbs with a -ł- classifier: néíłtsááh "he's drying it" (ná-yi-ł-tsááh), náltsááh it's being dried" (ná-l-tsááh).

Some verbs can occur with all four classifier prefixes:
  • siʼą́ "roundish object lies in position" (-Ø-ʼą́)
  • haatʼą́ "roundish object was taken up & out (i.e. extracted)" (-d-ʼą́)
  • séłʼą́ "I keep a roundish object in position" (-ł-ʼą́)
  • néshʼą́ "I have my head in position" (-l-ʼą́)

In other verbs, the classifiers do not mark transitivity and are considered thematic prefixes that simply are required to occur with certain verb stems.

Mode and aspect

Navajo has a large number of aspectual
Grammatical aspect
In linguistics, the grammatical aspect of a verb is a grammatical category that defines the temporal flow in a given action, event, or state, from the point of view of the speaker...

, modal
Grammatical mood
In linguistics, grammatical mood is a grammatical feature of verbs, used to signal modality. That is, it is the use of verbal inflections that allow speakers to express their attitude toward what they are saying...

, and tense
Grammatical tense
A tense is a grammatical category that locates a situation in time, to indicate when the situation takes place.Bernard Comrie, Aspect, 1976:6:...

 distinctions that are indicated by verb stem alternations (involving vowel and tonal ablaut and suffixation) often in combination with a range of prefixes. These are divided into seven "modes" and approximately twelve aspects and ten subaspects. (Although the term mode is traditionally used, most of the distinctions provided by the modes are in fact aspectual.) Each Navajo verb generally can occur in a number of mode and aspect category combinations.

Navajo has the following verb modes:
  • Imperfective
  • Perfective
  • Progressive
  • Future
  • Usitative
  • Iterative
  • Optative

The modes above have five distinct verb stem forms. For example, the verb meaning "to play, tease" has the following five stem forms for the seven modes:
Mode Stem Form
Imperfective -né
Perfective -neʼ
Progressive/Future -neeł
Usitative/Iterative -neeh
Optative -né

The progressive and future modes share the same stem form as do the usitative and iterative modes. The optative mode usually has the same verb stem as the imperfective mode, although for some verbs the stem forms differ (in the example "to play, tease" above, the imperfective and the optative stems are the same).

The imperfective
Imperfective aspect
The imperfective is a grammatical aspect used to describe a situation viewed with internal structure, such as ongoing, habitual, repeated, and similar semantic roles, whether that situation occurs in the past, present, or future...

 indicates an event/action that has begun but remains incomplete. Although this mode does not refer to tense
Grammatical tense
A tense is a grammatical category that locates a situation in time, to indicate when the situation takes place.Bernard Comrie, Aspect, 1976:6:...

, it is usually translated into English as a present tense form: yishááh "I'm (in the act of) going/coming", yishą́ "I'm (in the act of) eating (something)". With the additional of adverbials, the imperfective can be used for events/actions in the past, present, or future. The mode is used in the second person for immediate imperatives
Imperative mood
The imperative mood expresses commands or requests as a grammatical mood. These commands or requests urge the audience to act a certain way. It also may signal a prohibition, permission, or any other kind of exhortation.- Morphology :...

. The imperfective mode has a distinct imperfective stem form and four different mode-aspect prefix paradigms: (1) with a
ni- terminative prefix in position 7 as in nishááh "I'm in the act of arriving", (2) with a si- stative prefix in position 7 as in shishʼaah "I'm in the act of placing a SRO" in dah shishʼaah "I'm in the act of placing a SRO up" (dah "up"), (3) with no prefix in position 7, usually identified as a Ø- prefix, as in yishcha "I'm crying", (4) with either a yi- transitional or yi- semelfactive
In linguistics, semelfactives are a class of aktionsart or lexical verbal aspect. That is, they are a category of how, if at all, time flows in the occurrence of an action or situation; this aspect is incorporated into the root verb itself rather than being expressed grammatically by inflections...

 prefix in position 6 (and no prefix in position 7).

The perfective
Perfective aspect
The perfective aspect , sometimes called the aoristic aspect, is a grammatical aspect used to describe a situation viewed as a simple whole, whether that situation occurs in the past, present, or future. The perfective aspect is equivalent to the aspectual component of past perfective forms...

 indicates an event/action that has been completed and usually corresponds to English past tense:
yíyáʼ "I went/came/arrived", yíyą́ą́ʼ "I ate (something)". However, since the perfective mode is not a tense, it can be used to refer non-past actions, such as the future (where it may be translated as English "will have" + VERB). The perfective mode has a distinct perfective stem form and four different prefix paradigms: (1) with a yí- perfective prefix with a high tone in position 7 as in yíchʼid "I scratched it", (2) with a ní- terminative prefix with a high tone in position 7 as in níyá "I arrived", (3) with a sí- stative prefix with high tone in position 7 as in sélį́į́ʼ "I roasted it", (4) with a yi- transitional prefix in position 6 (and Ø- in position 7) as in yiizįʼ "I stood up".

The progressive
Continuous and progressive aspects
The continuous and progressive aspects are grammatical aspects that express incomplete action in progress at a specific time: they are non-habitual, imperfective aspects. It is a verb category with two principal meaning components: duration and incompletion...

 indicates an incomplete event/action that is ongoing without reference to the beginning or end of the event/action. This mode may be translated into English as BE + VERB-ing + "along":
yishááł "I'm going/walking along", yishtééł "I'm carrying it along". The future mode is primarily a future tense
Future tense
In grammar, a future tense is a verb form that marks the event described by the verb as not having happened yet, but expected to happen in the future , or to happen subsequent to some other event, whether that is past, present, or future .-Expressions of future tense:The concept of the future,...

 — indicating a prospective event/action:
deeshááł "I'll go/come", deeshį́į́ł "I'll eat (something)". The progressive mode has a yi- progressive prefix (in position 7), the future has a di- inceptive prefix (in position 6) and the yi- progressive prefix.

The usitative indicates a repetitive event/action that takes place customarily:
yishááh "I usually go", yishdlį́į́h "I always drink (something)". The iterative is a frequentative
In grammar, a frequentative form of a word is one which indicates repeated action. The frequentative form can be considered a separate, but not completely independent word, called a frequentative...

 indicating a recurrent event/action that takes place repeatedly and customarily:
chʼínáshdááh "repeatedly go out" as in ahbínígo tłʼóóʼgóó chʼínáshdááh "I always (repeatedly) go outdoors in the morning" (ahbínígo "in the morning", tłʼóóʼgóó "outdoors"), náshdlį́į́h "drink (something) repeatedly" as in nínádiishʼnahgo gohwééh náshdlį́į́h "I drink coffee when I get up" (nínádiishʼnahgo "when I get up", gohwééh "coffee"). The iterative is distinguished from the usitative by a ná- repetitive prefix (in position 2) and also sometimes by a -d- or -ł- classifier prefix (in position 9).

The optative indicates a positive or negative desire or wish. The mode is used with the addition of adverbial particle
Grammatical particle
In grammar, a particle is a function word that does not belong to any of the inflected grammatical word classes . It is a catch-all term for a heterogeneous set of words and terms that lack a precise lexical definition...

s that follow the verb, such as
laanaa and lágo: nahółtą́ą́ʼ laanaa "I wish it would rain", nahółtą́ą́ʼ lágo "I hope it doesn't rain". With punctual verbs, the optative mode can be used to form a negative imperative: shinóółʼį́į́ʼ (lágo) "don't look at me!". In certain adverbial frames, the optative indicates positive or negative potential.
Aspects and subaspects

The Primary aspects:
  • Momentaneous - punctually (takes place point in time)
  • Continuative - indefinite span of time & movement with specified direction
  • Durative - indefinite span of time, non-locomotive uninterrupted continuum
  • Repetitive - continuum of repeated acts or connected series of acts
  • Conclusive - like durative but in perfective terminates with static sequel
  • Semelfactive - single act in repetitive series of acts
  • Distributive - distributive manipulation of objects or performance of actions
  • Diversative - movement distributed among things (similar to distributive)
  • Reversative - result in directional change
  • Conative - attempted action
  • Transitional - shift from one state to another
  • Cursive - progression in a line through time/space (only progressive mode)

The subaspects:
  • Completive - event/action simply takes place
  • Terminative - stopping of action
  • Stative - sequentially durative and static
  • Inceptive - beginning of action
  • Terminal - inherently terminal action
  • Prolongative - arrested beginning or ending of action
  • Seriative - interconnected series of successive separate & distinct acts
  • Inchoative - focus on beginning of non-locomotion action
  • Reversionary - return to previous state/location
  • Semeliterative - single repetition of event/action

Navajo modes co-occur with various aspects. For example, the verb "rain falls" can occur in the perfective mode with the momentaneous and distributive aspects: -tsąąʼ (perfective momentaneous), -tsįʼ (perfective distributive). As with the modes, different aspects have different stem forms even when in the same mode, as seen with the previous "rain falls" perfective stems. Thus, a given verb will have set of stem forms that can be classified into both a mode and an aspect category. Verb stem paradigms of mode and aspect are given below for two different verbs:
"to curl, shrivel, contract into distorted shape"
Imperfective Perfective Progressive-
Momentaneous -chʼííł -chʼil -chʼił -chʼił -chʼííł
Transitional -chʼííł -chʼiil -chʼił -chʼił -chʼííł
-chʼil -chʼil -chʼił -chʼił -chʼil
Semelfactive -chʼił -chʼił -chʼił -chʼił -chʼił
Repetitive -chʼił
Conative -chʼiił -chʼil -chʼił -chʼił -chʼiił

"to smell, have an odor, stink"
Imperfective Perfective Progressive-
-chįįh -chą́ą́ʼ -chįįł -chįįh -chą́ą́ʼ
Continuative -chą́ą́ʼ -chą́ą́ʼ -chį́į́ł -chį́į́h -chą́ą́ʼ
Conclusive -chin -chą́ą́ʼ -chį́į́ł -chįįh -chą́ą́ʼ
Semelfactive -chįh -chįh -chįh -chįh -chįh
Repetitive -chą́ą́ʼ
Conative -chį́į́h
Cursive -chį́į́ł/-chį́į́h

As can be seen above, some aspect and mode combinations do not occur depending mostly upon the semantics of the particular verb. Additionally, some aspects do not occur at all with a particular verb. The patterns of verb stem alternations are very complex although there is a significant amount of homophony
A homophone is a word that is pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning. The words may be spelled the same, such as rose and rose , or differently, such as carat, caret, and carrot, or to, two, and too. Homophones that are spelled the same are also both homographs and homonyms...

. A particularly important investigation into this area of the Navajo verb is Hardy (1979).

Classificatory verbs

Navajo has verb stems that classify a particular object by its shape or other physical characteristics in addition to describing the movement or state of the object. Athabaskan linguistics identifies these as classificatory verb stems and usually identifies them with an acronym
Acronym and initialism
Acronyms and initialisms are abbreviations formed from the initial components in a phrase or a word. These components may be individual letters or parts of words . There is no universal agreement on the precise definition of the various terms , nor on written usage...

 label. The eleven primary classificatory "handling" verb stems appear listed below (in the perfective mode):
Classifier+Stem   Label   Explanation Examples
SRO Solid Roundish Object bottle, ball, boot, box, etc.
LPB Load, Pack, Burden backpack, bundle, sack, saddle, etc.
-ł-jool NCM Non-Compact Matter bunch of hair or grass, cloud, fog, etc.
-lá SFO Slender Flexible Object rope, mittens, socks, pile of fried onions, etc.
SSO Slender Stiff Object arrow, bracelet, skillet, saw, etc.
-ł-tsooz FFO Flat Flexible Object blanket, coat, sack of groceries, etc.
-tłééʼ MM Mushy Matter ice cream, mud, slumped-over drunken person, etc.
-nil PLO1 Plural Objects 1 eggs, balls, animals, coins, etc.
-jaaʼ PLO2 Plural Objects 2 marbles, seeds, sugar, bugs, etc.
OC Open Container glass of milk, spoonful of food, handful of flour, etc.
ANO Animate Object microbe, person, corpse, doll, etc.

To compare with English, Navajo has no single verb that corresponds to the English word give. In order to say the equivalent of Give me some hay!, the Navajo verb níłjool (NCM) must be used, while for Give me a cigarette! the verb nítįįh (SSO) must be used. The English verb give is expressed by eleven different verbs in Navajo, depending on the characteristics of the given object.

In addition to defining the physical properties of the object, primary classificatory verb stems also can distinguish between the manner of movement of the object. The stems may then be grouped into three different categories:
  1. handling
  2. propelling
  3. free flight

Handling includes actions such as carrying, lowering, and taking. Propelling includes tossing, dropping, and throwing. Free flight includes falling, and flying through space.

Using an example for the SRO category, Navajo has
  1. -ʼą́ "to handle (a round object)",
  2. -neʼ "to throw (a round object)", and
  3. -l-tsʼid "(a round object) moves independently".

yi-/bi- Alternation (Animacy)

Like most Athabaskan languages, Southern Athabaskan languages show various levels of animacy
Animacy is a grammatical and/or semantic category of nouns based on how sentient or alive the referent of the noun in a given taxonomic scheme is...

 in its grammar, with certain nouns taking specific verb forms according to their rank in this animacy hierarchy. For instance, Navajo nouns can be ranked by animacy on a continuum from most animate (a human or lightning) to least animate (an abstraction) (Young & Morgan 1987: 65-66):

humans/lightning → infants/big animals → med-size animals → small animals → insects → natural forces → inanimate objects/plants → abstractions

Generally, the most animate noun in a sentence must occur first while the noun with lesser animacy occurs second. If both nouns are equal in animacy, then either noun can occur in the first position. So, both example sentences (1) and (2) are correct. The yi- prefix on the verb indicates that the 1st noun is the subject and bi- indicates that the 2nd noun is the subject.

    (1)   Ashkii at'ééd yiníł'į́.
  boy girl yi-look
  'The boy is looking at the girl.'

    (2)   At'ééd ashkii biníł'į́.
  girl boy bi-look
  'The girl is being looked at by the boy.'

But example sentence (3) sounds wrong to most Navajo speakers because the less animate noun occurs before the more animate noun:

    (3)   * Tsídii at'ééd yishtąsh.
    bird girl yi-pecked
    'The bird pecked the girl.'

In order to express this idea, the more animate noun must occur first, as in sentence (4):

    (4)   At'ééd tsídii bishtąsh.
  girl bird bi-pecked
  'The girl was pecked by the bird.'

Note that although sentence (4) is translated into English with a passive verb, in Navajo it is not passive. Passive verbs are formed by certain classifier prefixes (i.e., transitivity prefixes) that occur directly before the verb stem in position 9. The yi-/bi- prefixes do not mark sentences as active or passive, but as direct or inverse.


Many concepts expressed using nouns in other languages appear as verbs in Navajo. The majority of true nouns are not inflected for number, and there is no case marking. Noun phrases are often not needed to form grammatical sentences due to the informational content of the verb.

There are two main types of nouns in Navajo:
  1. simple nouns and
  2. nouns derived from verbs (called deverbal nouns)

The simple nouns can be distinguished by their ability to be inflected with a possessive prefix, as in
Noun stem Gloss Possessed Noun stem Gloss Morpheme
"knife" "her knife" (3rd person) + "knife"
"pack" "my pack" (1st person singular) + "pack"

Deverbal nouns are verbs (or verb phrases) that have been nominalized
In linguistics, nominalization or nominalisation is the use of a verb, an adjective, or an adverb as the head of a noun phrase, with or without morphological transformation...

 with a nominalizing enclitic or converted into a noun through zero derivation
Conversion (linguistics)
In linguistics, conversion, also called zero derivation, is a kind of word formation; specifically, it is the creation of a word from an existing word without any change in form...

 (that is, verbs that are used syntactically as nouns without an added nominalizer). An example of a nominalized verb is "clock", which is derived from the verb "it is moved slowly in a circle" and the enclitic nominalizer . Another example is the deverbal noun "singer" (from verb "he sings" + nominalizing enclitic ). Converted deverbal nouns include "exit, doorway" and "Phoenix, Arizona" — when used as verbs may be translated into English as "something has a path horizontally out" and as "place/space is hot". Deverbal nouns can potentially be long and complex, such as
  "army tank"

which is composed of
  1. the nominalized noun "caterpillar tractor" (which itself is composed of noun "car", verb "it crawls about", and nominalizer )
  2. the noun "cannon" (which, in turn, is composed of verb "explosion/boom is made with it" and adjectival enclitic "big")
  3. the postposition "on it"
  4. the verb "they sit up"
  5. the nominalizer


Possession in Navajo is expressed with personal pronoun prefixes:
Singular Dual Plural
First shi- nihi- danihi-
Second ni- nihi- danihi-
Third bi-
Fourth (3o) yi-
Fourth (3a) ha-, hw-
Indefinite (3i) a-

Most of the time these prefixes take a low tone, but in some nouns and postpositions the final syllable of the prefix will take a high tone, such as shíla’ "my hand," nihíla’ "our/your hand."

The prefixes are also used when the possessor noun in a possessive phrase is a noun, as in
Jáan bimá lit. "John his-mother," i.e., "John's mother."

Navajo marks inalienable possession
Inalienable possession
In linguistics, inalienable possession refers to the linguistic properties of certain nouns or nominal morphemes based on the fact that they are always possessed. The semantic underpinning is that entities like body parts and relatives do not exist apart from a possessor. For example, a hand...

 for certain nouns — relatives, body parts, homes and dens. These nouns can only appear with a possessive prefix, as in
shimá "my mother." If one wishes to speak of mothers in general, the 3rd person indefinite prefix 'ʼa- "someone's" is used, amá.


Navajo uses a number of postpositions where Indo-European languages
Indo-European languages
The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

 tend to favor prepositions; thus, all spatial and most other relations such as under, on, or above are expressed by using the possessive prefix in combination with a postposition. All postpositions are inalienable, meaning that a prefix or fusion with a true noun is mandatory.

Examples include biyaa (under it), bikááʼ (on it), and bitah (among it). These can be combined with all prefixes to construct forms such as shiyaa (under me). Occasionally, postpositions are fused with true nouns to form a single word, such as Dinétah
Dinétah is the traditional homeland of the Navajo tribe of Native Americans. In the Navajo language, the word means "among the people" or "among the Navajo"...



Navajo uses a decimal
The decimal numeral system has ten as its base. It is the numerical base most widely used by modern civilizations....

 (base-10) numeral system. There are unique words for the cardinal number
Cardinal number
In mathematics, cardinal numbers, or cardinals for short, are a generalization of the natural numbers used to measure the cardinality of sets. The cardinality of a finite set is a natural number – the number of elements in the set. The transfinite cardinal numbers describe the sizes of infinite...

s 1-10. The numerals 11-19 are formed by adding an additive "plus 10" suffix to the base numerals 1-9. The numerals 20-100 are formed by adding a multiplicative "times 10" suffix to the base numerals 2-10.
base numeral +10 x10
1 (11)
2 (12) (20)
3 (13) (30)
4 (14) (40)
5 (15) (50)
6 (16) (60)
7 (17) (70)
8 (18) (80)
9 (19) (90)
10 (100)

In the compound numerals, the combining forms of the base numerals have irregular vowel and consonants changes. The numeral "1" has three forms:
  • (used in counting "one", "two", "three", etc.)
  • (a shortened combining form)
  • (used in larger numbers and with a distributive plural prefix)

The combining form is used in the compound "11". The numeral loses the final consonant while the final vowel in is shortened when the "+10" suffix is added. The suffix loses its initial becoming when added to "5". Several changes occur when the suffix is added involving a loss of the final consonant or a reduction in vowel length:
  • >
  • >
  • >
  • >
  • >
  • >
  • >
  • >
  • >

For the cardinal numerals higher than 20 between the multiples of 10 (i.e., 21-29, 31-39, 41-49, etc.), there are two types of formations. The numerals 21-29 and 41-49 are formed by suffixing the ones digit to the tens digit, as in "22" (< "20" + "2") and "41" (< "40" + "1"). Here the suffix appears in the combining form . The combining form "1" is used as well:
20 40
(20) (40)
21-29 41-49
(21) (41)
(22) (42)
(23) (43)
(24) (44)
(25) (45)
(26) (46)
(27) (47)
(28) (48)
(29) (49)

The other numerals are formed by placing dóó baʼąą "and in addition to it" between the tens digit and the ones digit, as in tádiin dóó baʼąą tʼááłáʼí "thirty-one" and ashdladiin dóó baʼąą tʼááʼ "fifty-three". The numerals 41-49 may also be formed in this manner: "forty-two dízdiin dóó baʼąą naaki or dízdįįnaaki.

The cardinal numerals 100-900 are formed by adding the multiplicative enclitic =di to the base numerals 1-9 and adding the word for "hundred" neeznádiin, as in tʼááłáhádí neeznádiin "one hundred", naakidi neeznádiin "two hundred", táadi neeznádiin "three hundred".
base numeral x100 (=di + neeznádiin)
1 tʼááłáʼí tʼááłáhádí neeznádiin (100)
2 naaki naakidi neeznádiin (200)
3 tááʼ táadi neeznádiin (300)
4 dį́į́ʼ dį́įʼdi neeznádiin (400)
5 ashdlaʼ ashdladi neeznádiin (500)
6 hastą́ą́h hastą́ądi neeznádiin (600)
7 tsostsʼid tsostsʼidi neeznádiin (700)
8 tseebíí tseebíidi neeznádiin (800)
9 náhástʼéí náhástʼéidi neeznádiin (900)

The base numerals with a high tone in the last syllable change to a falling tone before =di.

For the thousands, the word mííl (from Spanish mil) is used in conjunction with =di: tʼááłáhádí mííl "one thousand", naakidi mííl "two thousand", etc. The word for "million" is formed by adding the stem -tsoh "big" to mííl: mííltsoh "million" as in tʼááłáhádí mííltsoh "one million", naakidi mííltsoh "two million", etc.

Text example

Here is the first paragraph of a very short story in Young & Morgan (1987: 205a–205b).

Diné bizaad:

Free English translation:
Some crazy boys decided to make some wine to sell, so they each planted grapevines and, working hard on them, they raised them to maturity. Then, having made wine, they each filled a goatskin with it. They agreed that at no time would they give each other a drink of it, and they then set out for town lugging the goatskins on their backs....

Interlinear text:
Ashiiké tʼóó diigis léiʼ tółikaní łaʼ ádiilnííł
boys foolish certain wine some we'll make

dóó nihaa nahidoonih níigo yee jiní.
and from us it will be bought they saying with it they planned it is said

Áko tʼáá ałʼąą chʼil naʼatłʼoʼii kʼiidiilá
so then separately grapevines they planted them

dóó yinaalnishgo tʼáá áłah chʼil naʼatłʼoʼii jiní.
and diligently they working on them they both grapevines they raised them it is said

Áádóó tółikaní áyiilaago
and then wine they having made it

tʼáá bíhígíí tʼáá ałʼąą tłʼízíkágí yiiʼ haidééłbįįd jiní.
each their own separately goatskins in them they filled it it is said.

"Háadida díí tółikaní yígíí doo łaʼ ahaʼdiidził da," níigo
"any time this wine particular not some/any we'll give each other not," they saying

they agreed it is said.

Áádóó baa nahidoonih biniiyé kintahgóó dah yidiiłjid jiníʼ.
and then from then it will be bought its purpose to town off they started back-packing it it is said

External links



  • Blair, Robert W.; Simmons, Leon; & Witherspoon, Gary. (1969). Navaho Basic Course. Brigham Young University
    Brigham Young University
    Brigham Young University is a private university located in Provo, Utah. It is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , and is the United States' largest religious university and third-largest private university.Approximately 98% of the university's 34,000 students...

     Printing Services.
  • Goossen, Irvy W. (1967). Navajo made easier: A course in conversational Navajo. Flagstaff, AZ: Northland Press.
  • Goossen, Irvy W. (1995). Diné bizaad: Speak, read, write Navajo. Flagstaff, AZ: Salina Bookshelf. ISBN 0-9644189-1-6
  • Goossen, Irvy W. (1997). Diné bizaad: Sprechen, Lesen und Schreiben Sie Navajo. Loder, P. B. (transl.). Flagstaff, AZ: Salina Bookshelf.
  • Haile, Berard. (1941–1948). Learning Navaho, (Vols. 1–4). St. Michaels, AZ: St. Michael's Mission.
  • Platero, Paul R. (1986). Diné bizaad bee naadzo: A conversational Navajo text for secondary schools, colleges and adults. Farmington, NM: Navajo Preparatory School.
  • Platero, Paul R.; Legah, Lorene; & Platero, Linda S. (1985). Diné bizaad bee naʼadzo: A Navajo language literacy and grammar text. Farmington, NM: Navajo Language Institute.
  • Tapahonso, Luci
    Luci Tapahonso
    Luci Tapahonso is a Navajo poet and lecturer in Native American Studies.-Early life:Born on the Navajo reservation, to Eugene Tapahonso , and Lucille Tapahonso, , Luci Tapahonso was raised in a traditional way along with 11 siblings. English was not spoken on the family farm, and Tapahonso...

    , & Schick, Eleanor. (1995). Navajo ABC: A Diné alphabet book. New York: Macmillan Books for Young Readers. ISBN 0-689-80316-8
  • Witherspoon, Gary. (1985). Diné Bizaad Bóhooʼaah for secondary schools, colleges, and adults. Farmington, NM: Navajo Language Institute.
  • Witherspoon, Gary. (1986). Diné Bizaad Bóhooʼaah I: A conversational Navajo text for secondary schools, colleges and adults. Farmington, NM: Navajo Language Institute.
  • Wilson, Alan. (1969). Breakthrough Navajo: An introductory course. Gallup, NM: The University of New Mexico
    University of New Mexico
    The University of New Mexico at Albuquerque is a public research university located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in the United States. It is the state's flagship research institution...

    , Gallup Branch.
  • Wilson, Alan. (1970). Laughter, the Navajo way. Gallup, NM: The University of New Mexico at Gallup.
  • Wilson, Alan. (1978). Speak Navajo: An intermediate text in communication. Gallup, NM: University of New Mexico, Gallup Branch.
  • Wilson, Garth A. (1995). Conversational Navajo workbook: An introductory course for non-native speakers. Blanding, UT: Conversational Navajo Publications. ISBN 0-938717-54-5.
  • Yazzie, Evangeline Parsons, and Margaret Speas (2008). Diné Bizaad Bínáhoo'aah: Rediscovering the Navajo Language. Flagstaff, AZ: Salina Bookshelf, Inc. ISBN 978-1-893354-73-9

Linguistics & other reference

  • Akmajian, Adrian; & Anderson, Stephen. (1970). On the use of the fourth person in Navajo, or Navajo made harder. International Journal of American Linguistics, 36 (1), 1–8.
  • Creamer, Mary Helen. (1974). Ranking in Navajo nouns. Navajo Language Review, 1, 29–38.
  • Faltz, Leonard M. (1998). The Navajo verb: A grammar for students and scholars. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press. ISBN 0-8263-1901-7 (hb), ISBN 0-8263-1902-5 (pbk)
  • Frishberg, Nancy. (1972). Navajo object markers and the great chain of being. In J. Kimball (Ed.), Syntax and semantics (Vol. 1, p. 259–266). New York: Seminar Press.
  • Grimes, Barbara F. (Ed.). (2000). Ethnologue: Languages of the world, (14th ed.). Dallas, TX: SIL International. ISBN 1-55671-106-9. (Online edition:, accessed on November 19, 2004).
  • Hale, Kenneth L. (1973). A note on subject–object inversion in Navajo. In B. B. Kachru, R. B. Lees, Y. Malkiel, A. Pietrangeli, & S. Saporta (Eds.), Issues in linguistics: Papers in honor of Henry and Renée Kahane (p. 300–309). Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
  • Hoijer, Harry. (1945). Navaho phonology. University of New Mexico publications in anthropology, (No. 1).
  • Hoijer, Harry. (1945). Classificatory verb stems in the Apachean languages. International Journal of American Linguistics, 11 (1), 13–23.
  • Hoijer, Harry. (1945). The Apachean verb, part I: Verb structure and pronominal prefixes. International Journal of American Linguistics, 11 (4), 193–203.
  • Hoijer, Harry. (1946). The Apachean verb, part II: The prefixes for mode and tense. International Journal of American Linguistics, 12 (1), 1–13.
  • Hoijer, Harry. (1946). The Apachean verb, part III: The classifiers. International Journal of American Linguistics, 12 (2), 51–59.
  • Hoijer, Harry. (1948). The Apachean verb, part IV: Major form classes. International Journal of American Linguistics, 14 (4), 247–259.
  • Hoijer, Harry. (1949). The Apachean verb, part V: The theme and prefix complex. International Journal of American Linguistics, 15 (1), 12–22.
  • Hoijer, Harry. (1970). A Navajo lexicon. University of California Publications in Linguistics (No. 78). Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Kari, James. (1975). The disjunct boundary in the Navajo and Tanaina verb prefix complexes. International Journal of American Linguistics, 41, 330–345.
  • Kari, James. (1976). Navajo verb prefix phonology. Garland Publishing Co.
  • McDonough, Joyce. (2003). The Navajo sound system. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. ISBN 1-4020-1351-5 (hb); ISBN 1-4020-1352-3 (pbk)
  • Reichard, Gladys A. (1951). Navaho grammar. Publications of the American Ethnological Society (Vol. 21). New York: J. J. Augustin.
  • Sapir, Edward. (1932). Two Navaho puns. Language, 8 (3) , 217-220.
  • Sapir, Edward, & Hoijer, Harry. (1942). Navaho texts. William Dwight Whitney series, Linguistic Society of America.
  • Sapir, Edward, & Hoijer, Harry. (1967). Phonology and morphology of the Navaho language. Berkeley: University of California Press
    University of California Press
    University of California Press, also known as UC Press, is a publishing house associated with the University of California that engages in academic publishing. It was founded in 1893 to publish books and papers for the faculty of the University of California, established 25 years earlier in 1868...

  • Speas, Margaret. (1990). Phrase structure in natural language. Kluwer Academic Publishers. ISBN 0-7923-0755-0
  • Wall, C. Leon, & Morgan, William. (1994). Navajo-English dictionary. New York: Hippocrene Books. ISBN 0-7818-0247-4. (Originally published [1958] by U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Branch of Education, Bureau of Indian Affairs).
  • Webster, Anthony K. (2004). Coyote Poems: Navajo Poetry, Intertextuality, and Language Choice. American Indian Culture and Research Journal, 28, 69-91.
  • Webster, Anthony K. (2006). "ALk'idaa' Ma'ii Jooldlosh, Jini": Poetic Devices in Navajo Oral and Written Poetry. Anthropological Linguistics, 48(3), 233-265.
  • Webster, Anthony K. (2009). Explorations in Navajo Poetry and Poetics. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.
  • Witherspoon, Gary. (1971). Navajo categories of objects at rest. American Anthropologist, 73, 110-127.
  • Witherspoon, Gary. (1977). Language and art in the Navajo universe. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press
    University of Michigan Press
    The University of Michigan Press is part of the University of Michigan Library and serves as a primary publishing unit of the University of Michigan, with special responsibility for the creation and promotion of scholarly, educational, and regional books and other materials in digital and print...

    . ISBN 0-472-08966-8; ISBN 0-472-08965-X
  • Yazzie, Sheldon A. (2005). Navajo for Beginners and Elementary Students. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Press.
  • Young, Robert W. (2000). The Navajo verb system: An overview. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. ISBN 0-8263-2172-0 (hb); ISBN 0-8263-2176-3 (pbk)
  • Young, Robert W., & Morgan, William, Sr. (1987). The Navajo language: A grammar and colloquial dictionary (rev. ed.). Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. ISBN 0-8263-1014-1
  • Young, Robert W.; Morgan, William; & Midgette, Sally. (1992). Analytical lexicon of Navajo. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. ISBN 0-8263-1356-6; ISBN 0825313566
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