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Etymology, Synonyms[edit]

Looking at the etymology, Wouldn't nahashtʼéʼ be "I hop around"? I'd expect the lexical form of the verb to be náhatʼéʼ, no? Meanwhile, for the synonyms, the only Google hit for nahashtʼeʼii is this page, which seems a bit suspicious. -- Curious, Eiríkr Útlendi | Tala við mig 08:05, 12 January 2011 (UTC)

It is the lemma of the continuative aspect. Navaho does not have infinitives like English, something we see in many other languages (Arabic, Latin, Greek, Bulgarian, Ojibwe, for example), so a finite form must be used as the lemma. Literally, nahashtʼéʼ means "I am hopping around, I am gamboling, I am leaping about." The future lemma is nahideeshtʼeeł; si-perfective lemma is nahisístʼeʼ; iterative is nináháshtʼeeh; and optative is nahóshtʼeʼ. On the nahashtʼéʼ page, it can give the conjugation, but as a lemma in an etymology, we usually translate a lemma by a lemma, which means using the English infinitive for these words in Navajo, Latin, Greek, and so on. —Stephen (Talk) 09:14, 12 January 2011 (UTC)
Thank you for the conjugation, that's most informative :) -- so far I've only gotten through the imperfective and perfective (s-P and y-P) modes in Faltz's The Navajo verb: a grammar for students and scholars.
However, my question (which I could have stated better) was more arising from my (mis?)understanding that the lexical form of Navajo verbs was (subaspects aside) the imperfective third person, rather than first person. So if I were to look up the Navajo word for "to play", I'd expect to find naané as the entry term rather than naashné. Do I have this wrong? I was considering going through the current crop of Navajo entries and making sure the English terms they reference include the Navajo terms in the Translations section. I will certainly hold off on doing so with verbs for now.
Incidentally, do you have all this in your head? If so, you might want to bump up your stated language level on your user page.  :) And/or can you recommend other good dead-tree references for the language? -- TIA, Eiríkr Útlendi | Tala við mig 19:15, 12 January 2011 (UTC)
There are not many dictionaries for Navajo, so it is not so set in stone. Usually I prefer to use the 1st-person singular, although with some verbs I think 3rd-person is more reasonable. For example, naaltsʼid (it fell, it being a single roundish bulky object). Since the subject of naaltsʼid is a roundish bulky object, such as a wagon wheel, it would not make sense to use the 1st-person. Determining the best form to use as a lemma is difficult and probably should be decided on a case-by-case basis for many verbs. All verb forms should link to the lemma page, so the choice of person in an etymology is not so important this early in the game. The verbs are such a complex subject that I’m sure it will take a lot of work and a long time to do anything really useful with them here. Navajo is considered to be one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn as a second language, and very few foreigners ever manage to learn it well. —Stephen (Talk) 20:01, 12 January 2011 (UTC)
Good to know, thank you. Definitely food for thought. FWIW, I'd argue for third person, since the null infix for third person doesn't obscure the classifier. Alternately, a considerably more radical approach would be to use the imperfective verb stem as the lemma, then indicating in the entry details all the other appurtenances like lexical prefix(es), classifier, and other mode forms. I still need to get my hands on Young and Morgan's works proper though, among others; I'm quite curious to see other analyses in addition to Faltz's and Goossen's.
One thing that's puzzled me about the literature I've run across so far, rather than about the language per se, is why various things that I'd interpret as postpositional particles (like -gi or -góó or -di) are called clitics and treated as part of the preceding word -- applying similar logic to English would result in things like a or through losing their status as independent words. By way of comparison, postpositional particles in Japanese seem to operate along very similar lines as in Navajo, but are generally treated as separate from the words they follow. But that's a matter for a different day. -- Cheers, Eiríkr Útlendi | Tala við mig 21:28, 12 January 2011 (UTC)

It occurs to me that this (most interesting) discussion hasn't touched on the synonym given in the entry -- is nahashtʼeʼii attested anywhere? It doesn't seem to appear on the Navajo Wikipedia anywhere, not even on the w:nv:Nahatʼeʼii or w:nv:Nahatʼeʼiitsoh pages. -- Eiríkr Útlendi | Tala við mig 21:35, 12 January 2011 (UTC)

w:nv:nahashtʼeʼii is a redirect. Postposition has a slightly different meaning in Navajo grammar. Suffixes like -gi and -di are clitics. bikááʼ is a postposition. In Japanese grammar, particles like -gi are postpositions; in Turkish grammar, they are case endings; in Navajo grammar, they are clitics. Navajo uses forms like bikááʼ that we call postpositions, and which have no counterpart in languages like Japanese and Turkish. Arabic and Hebrew have something somewhat similar (عن), but they relate syntactically in a very different way. —Stephen (Talk) 22:00, 12 January 2011 (UTC)
About the synonym, redirect or otherwise, is it an attested synonym? I've not run across any other deverbalized nouns that are based on the first person; the ones I've seen all use the third person. The redirect itself was put in by w:nv:User:Seb az86556, who self-describes as a Navajo language beginner.
About -gi et al, here I run into the problem of vocabulary when talking about multiple languages, rather than any misapprehension about postpositions in Navajo -- I'm at least somewhat familiar with bikááʼ and its ilk. While not a direct counterpart, many of these dependent Navajo postpositions are similar to phrase constructions in Japanese, such as の上(に・で), with even the possessive falling into line. That aside, my use of the phrase postpositional particles previously was simply meant to denote what are treated as suffixes in the literature I've seen so far -- things like -gi and -di -- which do map quite easily to various particles in Japanese. Mind you, I'm in no way trying to say the languages are related -- I've read enough and studied enough to realize that this kind of construction isn't all that uncommon with SOV languages.
What I am commenting on and wondering about is why the literature about Navajo calls these particles clitics and treats them as part of the preceding word. By way of reference, w:Clitic notes:
In morphology and syntax, a clitic is a morpheme that is grammatically independent, but phonologically dependent on another word or phrase. It is pronounced like an affix, but works at the phrase level.
Clitics may belong to any grammatical category, though they are commonly pronouns, determiners, or adpositions. Note that orthography is not a good guide for identifying clitics: clitics may be written as independent words, bound affixes, or separated by special characters (e.g., apostrophe).
The last sentence here is new to me, and suggests that the English indefinite article a would indeed be a clitic as it is phonologically dependent, changing to an if followed by a vowel. The definite article the could probably also be categorized as a clitic, though more loosely, as changes in pronunciation depend more on the individual speaker. Meanwhile, through would likely not be a clitic, as I am not aware of any phonological dependency.
However, looking again at Navajo, I have not seen -gi et al behave in any phonologically dependent fashion. I have noted changes in the preceding word in the form of tonal shift or vowel shortening, partly evidenced in constructions such as bikááʼ + -gi producing bikáaʼgi. In fact, I dimly recall Goossen's Diné Bizaad specifically describing these particles as essentially immutable -- while the preceding word may change form, the particle does not. By my understanding, this would mean that such particles are not clitics.
Aside from how these particles are named in the literature, I'm also confused about why they are treated as attached to the preceding word. While bikáaʼgi exhibits tone shift in the preceding word and is spelled together, doo bikáaʼ da exhibits identical tone shift behavior and is spelled separately. I prefer clarity where possible, and this bundled spelling seems unnecessarily confusing to the learner. From what you've run across, do any authors explain why particles are treated as part of the preceding word? Goossen doesn't really explain this at all, and Faltz is all about the verb with no mention of particles in the first half of the book that I've read. Is bundled spelling just a convention, or is there a linguistic reason for doing so? -- Thank you for your time, Eiríkr Útlendi | Tala við mig 00:04, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
What do you mean by attested? There is not much written in Navajo, many words are known to speakers but may not be found in writing. We have synonyms for many of our nv:WP entries and we add the synonyms as redirects. If a word is not used or doesn’t exist, we don’t allow it as a redirect. w:nv:User:Seb az86556 may describe himself as a beginner, but he is being very modest. He has a lot of experience with Navajo, both casually in the community and formally in the classroom.
I don’t get your point about what you said about postpositions.
A clitic is always attached to another word, as -di in Navajo or 's in English. If the morpheme in question is written as a separate word, it is not a clitic. The Bulgarian definite articles are clitics, English articles are not. We make decisions about what sounds make a word or just make a prefix or suffix, and the main criterion is phonological dependence. As the earlier Europeans first began to learn Japanese and try to write it in Roman letters, there was hesitancy about whether the postpositions were suffixes or separate words. The Japanese themselves cannot shed light on this, because their script does not recognize word boundaries. But the Europeans were evenually able to determine that the postpositions are separate words, based on phonology. In English, phonology tells us that -ed and -s are suffixes, not separate words. In Navajo, phonology shows us that -gi and -di are suffixes, not separate words.
That is all I can make out of your questions. It was a bit wordy. If I missed anything important, it would help if you could put it more concisely. —Stephen (Talk) 00:54, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
Thank you Stephen, you've hit the main points. I wondered if Seb's userbox might be understated, but I have no easy means myself of telling one way or the other; by attested I meant if folks have run across deverbalized nouns in the first person. From your description, it sounds like the answer is yes, so that's sorted.
About postpositions, my first use of the term in this thread was as a general description of a term coming after another term, rather than as the Navajo-specific postposition that you then kindly described. The mention of の上 was to provide an analog to bikááʼ, in response to your comment that Navajo postpositions "have no counterpart in languages like Japanese".
About clitics, fair enough. Coming from a background in Japanese, my bias is to keep particles separate, as they do not appear to be bound morphemes; but for Navajo writing I shall simply have to learn a different way of looking at things. -- Thanks again, Eiríkr Útlendi | Tala við mig 02:10, 13 January 2011 (UTC)