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.
|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:
|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:
|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:
|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):
- past time
- from a general location or point in space or time, also out of, off of
- at a general location
- from a specific location or point in space or time
- -ę́ę-dą́ą́’ =yę́ędą́ą́’
- back when
- at a specific location
- to, toward, along, on, with a numeral it indicates a date
- over in the direction of the place where
- toward, northward
- designates ceremonies, religious and political institutions and lifeways
- on the side of, in the direction of, in the manner of
- in the manner of
- up to, as far as
- -k’eh -jí
- in a language
The pronoun prefixes, which can appear on postpositions, are shown below:
|area||ha-; ho-; go-|
In using these prefixes, the final vowel sometimes changes due to the sound that comes next.
Ła’ ha’nitáhígíí ’éí biihidzóhí 50 entries
’Abe’ yistiní hazhóó’ógo ni’ ninishtłeeh ńt’éé’ nááłhęęsh.ice.cream carefully stop 3-1-stop.carry.I past 3-fall.P
’Ahbínídą́ą́’ ch’ééh niba’ hasht’e’ ’ádííníszin.morning-Past in.vain 2-wait ready REFL-1-keep.CI
’Asdzą́ą́ Báhoozhóní yinishyé.woman happy 1-called.NI
Béésh náábał dóó haa nízahdi nighan?windmill and how 3-long.N-at 2-home
Dibé ła’ yóó’ ’íínilgo k’adę́ę ’e’e’aahgo ch’ééh bíká naanááshwoł.sheep some away 3-1-lose.P-GO almost evening in.vain 3-after 1-run.around.P
Díidí háísh bichidí?this who-Q 3-car
Doo hanii kintahgóó díníyáa da nisin.NEG contrary town-toward 2-start.go.P NEG 1-think.CI