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Navajo currency vocabulary

Can't help but find the etymology of the Navajo money terms fascinating. Navajo generally prefers internally-coined words to loan words, but the Spanish borrowings/calques here can almost serve as a history lesson, with many of these terms come from the use of fractional currency and Spanish pieces of eight in the nineteenth century.

łichííʼ - 'penny', lit. 'red thing'

łitso - 'nickel', lit. 'yellow thing'

dootłʼizhii - 'dime', lit. 'turquoise thing'

yáál - 'bit' = 12.5 cents, from Spanish real 'Spanish dollar/piece of eight'

gíínsi - 'fifteen cents', from Spanish quince 'fifteen'

naaki yáál - 'quarter', lit. 'two bits'

dį́į́ʼ yáál - 'fifty cents', lit. 'four bits'

hastą́ą́ yáál - 'seventy-five cents', lit. 'six bits'

béeso - 'money', from Spanish peso 'pound'

tsindáo - 'cent', from Spanish centavo 'cent'

tʼááłáʼí béeso - 'one dollar'

béeso yázhí - 'coins', lit. 'small money'

October 23, 2018




Thanks for posting! This is an audio resource with some examples:



One small correction: it's dį́į́ʼ, not díí.

Díí actually exists and means "this".


corrected it! yeah, Duo has díí as 'four', so that's another typo they've got to fix


Also, it should be tʼááłáʼí


But it's annoying that it when it says "cent" or "penny" or "one cent", you've got to get the one it expects from "sindao" or "łichííʼ" or "łichíí béeso yázhí". Just as in the first lesson you need to know whether that particular exercise wants " Naatʼáanii Nééz" as one word or two

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