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Navajo Language Guide and Resources

Navajo Language Guide and Resources


Welcome to the Navajo Language resource guide.  This page will provide helpful resource information for Navajo Language learning.  

Land Acknowledgement Statement

NAU Land Acknowledgement Statement: Northern Arizona University sits at the base of the San Francisco Peaks, on homelands sacred to Native Americans throughout the region. We honor their past, present, and future generations, who have lived here for millennia and will forever call this place home.

Campus resources

Native American Cultural Center:

The Native American Cultural Center (NACC), a unit under the Office of Native American Initiatives opened its doors to become a “Home Away from Home” for many in the NAU Community in October 2011. From its inception, the NACC has striven to support students and to educate the larger community on the histories, cultures, and issues facing Native American/Alaskan Native/ Native Hawaiian and Indigenous communities. The Native American Cultural Center was a dream 30 years in the making for the NAU and Flagstaff community.

Online educational partner links

Melvatha Chee created the Navajo Sound Profile Page for the University of New Mexico.  Cline Library has permission to share this helpful resource. 

Navajo Sound Profile


Diné Kehjí Za’áán dóó Zaatł’ah

The Diné language learners in university courses are highly proficient speaking, reading, and writing the
English language well. They are already familiar with the sounds of each alphabet (phonetics). This is an
excellent starting point to begin for a second language learner, for learning Diné in this case.
Although not all sounds made in the Diné language are present in English the goal here is using the
sounds already known and used routinely in daily conversations. Students then progress to learning and
eventually using those other unfamiliar sounds used in Diné.

Presented below are the alphabets which represent the phonemic structure of Diné.
These za’áán (vowel) and zaatł’ah (consonant) sounds are used in reading and writing Diné.

Díí dıı̨́ ǵ̨ o Za’áán dadiits’a’:
These are the four Diné vowel sounds: a, e, i, o

Díí éí Zaatł’ah dadiits’a’ígíí:
These represent the Diné consonant sounds: b, ch, ch’, d, dl, dz, g, gh, h, x, hw, j, k, k’, kw, ’, l, ł,
m, n, s, sh, t, t’, tł, tł’, ts, ts’, w, y, z, zh
A notable attribute is that the za’áán sounds will not change: ’awéé’, ’at’ééd, ’abíní
Contrastingly, in English a vowel sound change example is: abrupt, ache, after
Even a different vowel could have a similar sound: obstruct

Despite variations students have very little difficulty using the English language proficiently.
The above inconsistency does not exist with Diné za’áán sounds. Use the IPA Chart with Sounds, see URL
below, to listen to the sounds of each za’áán:
a   e   i   o

International Phonetic Alphabet

On the IPA webpage scroll down to:
Click on an IPA Symbol to Hear the Associated IPA Pronunciation of the Sound. Then locate the
four za’áán alphabet, click on each to hear the sound they represent.
Sound out these following Diné verbs using the alphabet sounds you already know - n, sh
The syllables are shown for you in the first column.
The Diné words are in the second column, followed by the English translation.
         naash|nish                       naashnish             I am working.
ni|shish|nish                    nishishnish           I worked.
                                                                               naal|nish                          naalnish       _____ is working. As in: Jáán naalnish. (John is working.)