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East-West Dialectical Differences?[edit]

Numerous articles on the NV WP use the word ndaʼałkaahí instead. Does this represent a difference in dialect within the Navajo language? If so, this should be marked in the entry. -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 17:28, 18 June 2012 (UTC)

I also see nidaʼałkááhí, sometimes on the same page as ndaʼałkaahí, such as seen at w:nv:Tsʼánídílzhiʼí. Is this some other dialectical variation, or does it represent orthographic confusion? -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 17:36, 18 June 2012 (UTC)

nidaʼałkááʼiʼ is the plural of naʼałkááʼiʼ in the Western dialect. Initial nida- or nda- are completely equivalent. The Standard singular form is naʼałkaahi. Moving nidaʼałkááʼiʼ to naʼałkaahi. —Stephen (Talk) 09:27, 19 June 2012 (UTC)
  • Re: nida- vs. nda-, I'm curious if you have any ideas about accounting for this contraction. I'd started a bit of discussion over at Wiktionary_talk:About_Navajo#How_to_handle_dialectical_differences.3F, but there hasn't been much traffic there.
  • Re: the change in the root, thank you for the clarification. Presumably we should have entries for both forms, naʼałkaahí and naʼałkááʼiʼ?
  • Re: the etymology, I see you point to naʼalkaah as the underlying verb. What then changes the mediopassive / intransitive classifier -l- in naʼalkaah to the causative / transitive classifier -ł- in naʼałkaahí? That's an unexpected shift. Based on the simple pattern of suffixing with the nominalizer , I'd expect the underlying verb to be naʼałkaah, itself from naałkaah, but web searches produce no hits.
Meanwhile, web searches suggest that ndaʼałkaahí is the most common plural form (though oddly the singular/dual doesn't show up online), but that ndaʼalkaahí with the intransitive -l- classifier does show up (though again, with no online evidence of the singular/dual):
If you have any information about the etymology for underlying verb form naalkaah, and particularly for how this apparently transitive verb came to have the plain "L" -l- classifier, it would be much appreciated. -- Thank you, Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 16:40, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

PS -- After hitting "Save page", I noticed that naʼałkaahí is redlinked -- is the page supposed to be at naʼałkaahi, with a low tone on the final "i"? -- Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 16:43, 19 June 2012 (UTC)

nida- vs. nda-: Nda- isn’t a contraction, it’s a syllabic N. It can also be pronounced Ni-, but the syllabic N is most common. Regardless of one’s pronuncuation, it can be spelt either way; and regardless of the spelling, it can be pronounced either way.
I don’t think we need an entry for naʼałkááʼiʼ. Western Navajo is unwritten, except for the occasional speaker writing his best guess at a good spelling when he’s trying to write literary Navajo. The next speaker of Western Navajo would probably spell it in a different way. Before we could start adding words in Western Navajo, we should do a detailed study of the language and made decisions on the spelling of each word. It’s best to be aware of Western Navajo, and learn to read it when you encounter those spellings, but otherwise just ignore it, because it does not yet have a written standard and probably never will.
-l- is for the subject, -ł- is for the person who performs the subject.
You cannot rely on google hits for Navajo, they are meaningless. There is too little Navajo written on the internet, and what is written is often missing the tone marks, nasalization, barred-el, glottal stops, and often is not even divided correctly into words.
The page is currently at naʼałkaahi. There are different opinions about the tone which we will try to clear up next month sometime. In the meantime, just leave it at naʼałkaahi. —Stephen (Talk) 14:37, 20 June 2012 (UTC)
About the "N", wouldn't the elision of the "I" be a contraction, pretty much by definition? And are you aware of any east-west trends regarding whether a particular speaker will use the shorter form, or the more fully-pronounced "ni"?
Not sure what you mean by "-l- is for the subject, -ł- is for the person who performs the subject".
About Google, yes, the broader web is dodgy at best when it comes to spellings. However, searching just the Navajo WP should have some relevance, given that the editors there are more of a known quantity.
Regarding the tone of the suffix, I'm happy to leave the page where it is for now, but I do note that google "ndaʼałkaahi" with the low tone gets zero hits, whereas google "ndaʼałkaahí" with the high tone gets 510 at present. If there is a strong argument for leaving this at the low-toned-suffix spelling, the etymology should be updated to explain why the high-tone agent suffix has a low tone in this word.
-- Cheers, Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 17:02, 20 June 2012 (UTC)
The "i" isn’t elided. In "nida-", "i" is inserted (if desired). There is no East-West difference. The "nda-" is already fully pronounced. Adding the unnecessary "i" does not make it more fully pronounced.
You assume that the writers on NV Wikipedia are fully versed in literary Navajo the way we are in literary English, or the Japanese are in literary Japanese. They are not. Literary Navajo barely exists. Almost no one is taught it formally. The few people who try to write it often spell words the way they hear themselves saying them, and many words are pronounced in ways that make the tones, long vowels, nasalized vowels, and glottal stops uncertain. Rules have been laid out, but most people don’t know the rules and are apt to write all sorts of different spellings. I recently saw a t-shirt with the Navajo phrase TʼÁÁ HWÓʼ ÁJÍTʼ ÉEGO...people aren’t even sure how to divide words (should be TʼÁÁ HWÓ ÁJÍTʼÉEGO). There is even a monthly Navajo newsletter by that name, and with that incorrect misspelling.
NV Wikipedia is awash in misspelled words. Don’t look to it as an example of what is correct. We are gradually trying to tighten it up, but it is far from properly spelled.
Regarding the tone, etc., do strenuously avoid noting Navajo spelling hits. The hits are completely meaningless. —Stephen (Talk) 01:39, 21 June 2012 (UTC)
Hi, excuse me for inserting myself. I think that by "-l- is for the subject, -ł- is for the person who performs the subject", Stephen meant "the subject of the investigation", not "subject" in the grammatical sense. The printed reference works do have naashkaah and naʼashkaah, both with an -ł- classifier, both meaning "do tracking/investigating", so those verbs exist--my guess is that they're just not nearly as common as the passive form naalkaah. It does seem to me, though, that naʼalkaah, when used as a verb, should be more like "something gets trailed, tracked"--since, like Stephen said, the -l- form is for the subject of the investigation. Ewweisser (talk) 17:14, 10 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Thank you Ewweisser, that makes more sense. I had indeed interpreted Stephen's comment to mean "grammatical subject" rather than "subject matter being investigated", hence my confusion. -- Cheers, Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 23:24, 10 July 2012 (UTC)