Introduction to Navajo Postpositions

This is a lexicon of Navajo postpositions and postpositional enclitics. Postpositions are pretty much the same as prepositions in English but a postposition appears after its noun phrase object rather than before it. Postpositions tend to be short words with meanings that indicate information about location, direction, or timing of an event described by the verb in the sentence, or about the kind of role played by the noun phrase in the event.

There is a relatively small number of postpositions, so by memorizing them, language learners can quickly improve their comprehension of Navajo.

This lexicon includes 14 postpositional enclitics and 75 postpositions based on Young & Morgan (1987:25-26).

Postpositions appear with pronoun prefixes attached to them.

(1)
Sha’áłchíní b ch’iyáán ’íishłaa.
1-children 3-for food 3-1-cook.P
I cooked for my children.

In example (1), sha’áłchíní bá is a postpositional phrase, meaning ’for my children’. The postposition is -á, and the pronoun prefix is b-. This is a third person prefix, which is why the gloss underneath bá has a 3 in it. The meaning of -á is ‘for’, and this is also indicated in the gloss. Also, the sh in the word sha’áłchíní, ’my children’, is a first person pronoun prefix. This pronoun prefix also appears inside the verb ’íishłaa. Note that the gloss is 3-1-cook.P; this indicates that the word means ‘I cooked it’: 3-1 in the gloss indicates that the subject of the verb is first person (‘I’), and the object is third person (‘it’). For a guide to glossing, click here.

The first person prefix appears again on the postposition -ił (‘with’), in the example below:

(2)
Chidí k’asdą́ą́’ sh ’adah ch’éélwod.
car almost 1-with down off-3-go.P
The car almost ran off (the road) with me.

Postpositional Enclitics do not have pronoun prefixes, and instead attach directly onto another phrase. The example below, the enclitic is -di (‘at’). It is attached directly to Na’nízhoozhí (‘Gallup, New Mexico). There is no pronoun prefix:

(3)
Ch’óóshdą́ą́dą́ą́’ Na’nízhoozhídi kééhasht’į́ ńt’éé’.
formerly Gallup-at 1-live.I past
I used to live in Gallup.

In the example below, the enclitic -gi is attached to the postpositional phrase tsé biká (on the rock’). The pronoun prefix bi- is attached to the postposition -ká (’on’), not to the enclitic:

(4)
Tsé bikáa’gi béésh dah si’ą́.
rock 3-on-at knife up 3-sit.SNP
The knife is on the rock.

Note that both -di and -gi are glossed as ’at’. The enclitic -di is used for more general locations, and -gi is used for more specific ones.

The postpositional enclitics in this lexicon are, from the list in YMM (1992:938-09):

-dą́ą́’
past time
-dę́ę́’
from a general location or point in space or time, also out of, off of
-di
at a general location
-dóó
from a specific location or point in space or time
-ę́ę-dą́ą́’ =yę́ędą́ą́’
back when
-gi
at a specific location
-góó
to, toward, along, on, with a numeral it indicates a date
-í-jígo
over in the direction of the place where
-jigo
toward, northward
-jí
designates ceremonies, religious and political institutions and lifeways
-jí
on the side of, in the direction of, in the manner of
-jí-k’ehgo
in the manner of
-jį́’
up to, as far as
-k’eh -jí
in a language

The pronoun prefixes, which can appear on postpositions, are shown below:

singular dual-plural
1st person shi- nihi-
2nd person ni- nihi-
3rd person yi-/bi-
4th person ho-
unspecified ’a
reciprocal ’ahi-
reflexive ’ádi-
area ha-; ho-; go-

In using these prefixes, the final vowel sometimes changes due to the sound that comes next.

An example search has returned 50 entries

’Adą́ą́dą́ą́’ shá bíighah ’atah ’adishdiłgo ’i’íí’ą́.

yesterday 1-for 3-passing down 1-play.stick.dice.RI evening

’Adeesdíilgo dibé sits’ą́ą́’ dah diijéé’.

3-thunder.P-GO sheep 1-away-from start-3-run.Pl.P
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When thunder rumbled the sheep stampeded on me, ran away from me.

’Ahwééh náánááshdlą́ą́’.

coffee again-1-drink.R

’Aoo’, ’ashdladigóó ’oolkiłgo ’áádę́ę́’ sh ná’ílwod.

yes five-at-toward clock-GO there-from 1-with 3-return.P

’áyąą, ’áyaańda

’Óshą́ą́’ laanaa’ dichin shi’niiłxį́.

1-eat.O wish hunger 1-3-kill.I

*Nidlóóhísh doodaii’ doo sha’shin nidlóoh da?

2-cold.X-Q or NEG perhaps 2-cold.X-Q NEG

-ch’ijí

toward, on the side, supporting;

-go

listenloadingplaying

verb followed by subordinating enclitic –go

-ídin

-jigo

toward, (north)ward

-nánii

listenloadingplaying

on a slope, on the edge

Béésh ’áłts’ózí bee ’atsidí bee ’aháníłne’.

wire hammer 3-with 3-1-beat.P
listenloadingplaying

I beat the wire in two with a hammer.

bíhoosh’aah

1-learn.it.I

Bíla’ashdla’ii wolyéii bił dah nahaz’ą́ą́góó t’áá ’ał’ąą bizaad dahólǫ́.

3-fingers-five-NOM 3-be.called-NOM 3-with static areal-3-govern.P-toward just separate 3-language pl

Ch’ah ’éí doodaii’ nák’ee sinilí łizhinígíí daats’í nee hólǫ́’?

hat or sunglasses perhaps 2-with 4-exist.NI
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Do you have a hat or sunglasses? / Maybe you have a hat or sunglasses.

ch’óóshdą́ą́dą́ą́’

Chidí naat’a’íísh hooghankáá’góó ch’ínísaal ’éí doodaii’ dziłghąą’góó daats’í?

airplane house-over-along over-3-fly.P TOP or mountain-attached-along perhaps

Dá’ák’ehdi t’ah ńt’éé’ t’óó ’ayóigo nahachagii bizhiin yijiłgo yiiłtsą́.

field-at still past just very grasshoppers swarm 4-move.along.Prog-GO 3-1-see.P
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To my surprise, I saw a swarm of grasshoppers moving along a field.

dego

Dichin nínízin ya’?

hungry 2-want.NI Q
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You are hungry, aren’t you?

Dichin nínízin ya’?

hungry 2-want.NI Q
listenloadingplaying

You are hungry, aren’t you?

Díí dziłígíí shádi’ááh bich’ijígo ’ałkéé’ ’adíítąąd.

this mountain-Comp southward 3-toward-GO one-behind-another 3Pl-scatter.NP
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These mountains are strung out, one behind the other toward the south.

doo ’asht’é’égóó

Doo t’áá k’ad chidí na’ní’ą́ą da.

NEG just now vehicle 2-3-1-lend.P NEG
listenloadingplaying

I don’t want to lend you a car.

Gohwééh nayiisnii’ídiísh b bééhózin?

coffee 3-3-buy.P-at-Q 3-with 3-know.NI

Ha’át’íí lá neidiyoołnih lá?

what DISC 3-3-buy.F DISC

Ha’át’ííshą’ hastiin dóó ’at’ééd ’áyiilaa?

what-Q man and girl 3-3-make.P

Haash nízah kodóó nighanjį’?

how-Q 3-long.N here-from 2-home-to

Hastiin dóó ’at’ééd lá ha’át’íí ’áyiilaa?

man and girl Q what 3-3-make.P

Háadi lá ’ádeiit’į́?

where-at Q pl-3-be
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Where are we (pl)?

Háadi lá ’ádeiit’į́?

where-at Q pl-3-be

Háágóósh díníyá?

where-to-Q 2-go.I

Hádą́ą́’sh Mary ’ólta’dę́ę́’ nádzá?

when-past-Q Mary school-from 3-return.P

háidí

Háidíígíí lá neidiyoołnih?

which.one-ÍGÍÍ Q 3-3-buy.F
listenloadingplaying

Which one is s/he going to buy?

Háíshą’ tsinaa’eeł ’áyiilaa?

who-Q boat 3-3-make.P

K’adę́ę ’ałné’e’áahgo díchin bik’ee shitah ’anahodí’niitłi’.

now noon hunger 3-account 1-among 1-shake.R
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When it is nearly noon, I get shaky from hunger.

Mary hádą́ą́’sh ’ólta’dę́ę́’ nádzá?

Mary when-past-Q school-from 3-return.P

Naalyéhé bá hooghandi t’ah doo dá’deelkaałdą́ą́’ nisingo na’ńle’dii tsį́į́ł shiisxį́ (siisxį́).

trading.post-at just NEG 3-PASS-close.I-past 1-think.N-GO dismay speed 1-3-kill.P
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Thinking that the trading post would not be closed I rushed (to get there), but I was out of luck.

Naalyéhé bá hooghandi tł’oh hániikai ńt’éé’ ’áníídí yee’ ’ásdįįd lágo ’áadi niikai.

trading.post-at hay 1dpl-go.pl.P past recently very 3-disappear.P DISC-GO there 1dpl-go.pl.P
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We went to the trading post after hay only to find that the supply had just run out.

Nidlóóhísh doodaii’ dooísh nidlóoh da?

2-cold.X-Q or NEG-Q 2-cold.X-Q NEG

Nił bééhózinísh ’éí doodaii’ nicheii daats’í bił bééhózin?

2-with 3-know.CI-Q TOP or 2-grandfather perhaps 3-with 3-know.CI

Sha’áłchíní béeso ’ashladiin baa nínil ńt’éé’ t’ááła’ajį́ ’ałtso yibadooskai.

1-children money 50 3-for 2-put.PlO.P past at-once all 3-3-exhaust.P
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I gave my children fifty dollars and they went through it in a single day.

Shicheii t’áá ’íiyisíí hastihgo biniinaa kónááhoot’éhí doo na’ádódlíi da.

1-grandfather very 3-old.N-GO because next.year NEG 3-expect.live.NP NEG 
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Since my grandfather is very old he doesn’t expect to be alive next year at this time.

Shikee’ ’ániidígo biniinaa shikee’ bąąh tó’diisool.

1-shoe recently because 1-foot 3-on 3-blister.form.P
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Because my shoes are new, they made a water blister on my foot.

Yadiizíníshą’ haa néelt’e’go nínízin?

can-Q how 3.many.N-GO 2-want.NI

yiishjį́į́ł

1-become black, get sunburned.Prog

yiłbéézh

3DO-3-boil.it.I

Łį́į́’ hooghangóó nooshkaałgo táá’ shits’ą́ą́ bizánághah góne’ ’ałhaa’eekai.

horse hogan-GO 3-1-herd-Prog-GO 3-1-away-from around areal-in-3 3-run.P.Pl
listenloadingplaying

I was chasing the horses home when three of them took off around the bend.