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.

Ła’ ha’nitáhígíí ’éí biihidzóhí 50 entries

’Aseezį́ binaaltsoos biníkádinishchid.

gossip 3-paper 3-through-1-stick.finger.P

’ayóí

’Ayóo łį́į́’ sh naalgeed diní, ’ííshją́ą́shį́į́ díí łį́į́chogii bikáá’ dah ńdaah!

very horse 1-with 3-buck.CI 3-2-say.NI lets.see this stallion 3-on up 2-sit.I

-á

-í + -jígo

Ch’ééh jiyáán hooghangóó dah dii’ągo shee nikihoníłt.

watermelon home-toward up 3-1-move.SRO.P 1-with area-start-rain.P

Chidí daats’í bee hólǫ́ ’éí doodaii’ niísh chidí nee hólǫ́?

car maybe 3-with 4-exist.N TOP or 2-Q car 2-with 4-exist.NI

Chidíísh bee hólǫ́ doodaii’ ni daats’í chidí nee hólǫ́?

car-Q 3-with 4-exist.NI or you perhaps car 2-with 4-exist.NI

Chidíísh bee hólǫ́ doodaii’ ni daats’í chidí nee hólǫ́?

car-Q 3-with 4-exist.NI or you perhaps car 2-with 4-exist.NI

Da’ ’ałní’ní’ą́ąjį’ tł’óo’di nishínílnish?

Q noon-until outside-at 2-work.P

Da’ naadą́’ísh nee hólǫ́?

Q corn-Q 2-with 3-exist.NI

Daniel hahgosh hidilníísh?

Daniel when-Q 3-start.work.I

Daniel hahgosh hidilníísh?

Daniel when-Q 3-start.work.I

Dá’ák’eh góyaa yishwoł.

cornfield down.that.way 1-run.Prog

Díí chąą’ shą’ háádę́ę́’ niníyęęzh?

this manure-Q where-from 3-ooze.P

doo ’ashohodoobéézhgóó

doo --- le’ ’át’éégóó

Ha’át’íísh neidiyoołnih nínízin?

who-Q 3-3-buy.F 2-think.NI

Haa níníłnééz?

what 2-tall.relatively.NI

háadi

hágoónee’

Hái da shą’ tsinaa’eeł ’ájiilaa lá?

who DA Q boat 3-4-make.P DISC

Háí lá tsinaa’eeł ’áyiilaa?

who Q boat 3-3-make.P

Jáanísh naalnish?

John-Q 3-work.I

jishbéézh

3DO-4-boil.it.P

K’ad cháshk’eh góyaa tó deg ’anool’ąął.

now wash area-down water up 3-move.Prog

Mary ha’át’íí nayiisnii’?

Mary what 3-3-buy.P

Mary ha’át’íí yinízin?

Mary what 3-3-want.NI

Ni daats’í nił bééhózin ’éí doodaii’ nicheii daats’í bił bééhózin?

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

nidasiilkáá’

pl-3DO-1dpl-investigate.it.P

Nidlóóhísh doodaii’ dooísh nidlóoh da?

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

Nidlóóhísh doodaii’ doo daats’í nidlóoh da?

2-cold.I-Q or neg perhaps 2-cold.I neg

néishjį́į́h

R mode-1-become black, get sunburned.R

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

Shá bíighah na’ashkǫ́ǫ́’.

sun proportionate 1-swim.CI

Shighandóó ha’a’aahjígo ’ahidiildzis dóó ’ákóyaa bida’atiin.

1-house-from east-to-GO join-together-canyons and there-down 3-off-road

Shizhé’é bidá’ák’eh ’éí shicheii bidá’ák’eh táadi yilááh ’ánáníłtso.

1-father 3-field TOP 1-grandfather 3-field three-at 3-big 3-again-big.NI

Shį́į́dą́ą́’ na’niiłkaadgo t’áá ’áháníjį’ ’adeeshch’iłgo bik’ee deelyiz.

T’iis Ts’ózídi shicheii bidááh níyá.

Crownpoint.at 1-grandfather 3-meet 1-walk.P

Tooh ńlínígíí ha’naa shił ’adeezbą́ą́z ńt’éé’ tsinaabąąs nihits’ą́ą́’ k’é’éłtǫ’.

water river areal-across 1-with 3-drive.P past wagon 2dpl-away 3-break.P

Tsé ’ayóí ’áníłtso léi’ tsékooh góyaa hadah ch’ééłmááz.

rock remarkably large INDEF canyon areal-down areal-edge out-3-1-roll.P

wooshjį́į́h

1-become black, get sunburned.O

Yadiizíní bitł’ááhdę́ę́’ bigháda’shéshiizh.

can 3-under-from 3-through-SUP-1-poke.P

yideeshjį́į́ł

FUT-FUT-1-become black, get sunburned.F

yidoołbish

3DO-3-boil.it.F

Yiską́ągo níléí Tóhajiileehgóó shigáál deizt’i’.

tomorrow.GO over.there Tóhajiileeh-toward 1-physical.being pl-3-path.extend.P

Ąąh háá’á wolyéii k’ad doo ’asht’é’égóó bik’ee ntsinisdzá.

debt 3-extend.NP 3-be.called.NI now extremely 3-on.account.of 1-???? YÁ

Ła’ damóo yę́ędą́ą́’ dah ’iyétł’ónée, k’ad ’ałníí’góó ’eeshtł’óół.

one Sunday past up 3-1-set.P-past now middle-toward 1-weave.Prog

Łáháda ’ach’íí’ náshdį́į́h.

now.and.then rolled.intestine 1-eat.R

Łį́į́’ ’áhidiníłnáago sizį́.

horse Recip-3-opposite-GO 3-du-stand.SPN
’íísíníłts’ą́ą́’loadingplaying