1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Navajo
  4. >
  5. Can someone describe how the …


Can someone describe how the accents work in Navajo?

I've been looking stuff up but I can't find all the information on vowels and the slash l. Here's what I have found though: The accent underneath the vowel mean it is nasalized Double vowels mean you hold out the vowel sound longer than a normal one The slash l is very similar to the Welsh double l. You put your tongue in the shape for saying l and breathe out on the sides of it. I can't find anywhere that describes what the acute accent means. So it gets really confusing when combined with a nasal accent. I found some stuff about the apostrophe (I know it's called the Okina in Hawaiian and functions similar to it but I don't know the Navajo name) but I would love to know more about it. If anyone can give me information on these accents or other hard sounds in Navajo that would be greatly appreciated.

October 7, 2018


[deactivated user]

    The acute accent represents tones. There are four tones in Navajo: neutral, high, rising and falling.

    Neutral (or low) tone will have no accent: a

    High tone will have an accent: á

    Rising tone will have a vowel followed by an accented vowel: aaí

    Falling tone will have an accented vowel followed by an unaccented vowel: áa

    Of these four, non-native speakers usually have to most difficulty with falling tone, but otherwise these are relatively simple. The difference between your neutral or low tone and your high tone doesn't need to be dramatic, just enough for a listener to hear the difference. The difference really needn't be more than that difference in pitch when we ask a question in English. For example:

    I will go to tomorrow.

    Will you go tomorrow?

    When you say both those sentence aloud in a normal speaking voice, note the difference in pitch you make on the word "tomorrow." That's all the difference in tones you need to make in Navajo.

    Here is a video about tones--it's not the best presentation but it gives you the general idea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCd9gZQRxpY

    A video about vowel sounds, including nasalized vowels: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjBPT3yD28U

    And lastly, a video covering more difficult sounds, including glottals: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxO7lCvOhlU


    Navajo actually has five tones; there is that mid-tone that nobody ever talks about but I hear it.


    I made a post of this.

    Learn Navajo in just 5 minutes a day. For free.