https://www.duolingo.com/maf654321

Navajo currency vocabulary

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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'

3 months ago

5 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/DiegoJaviUnlam
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Yáʼátʼééh!

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

http://gomyson.com/money1.html

3 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Judorange123

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

Díí actually exists and means "this".

3 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/maf654321
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corrected it! yeah, Duo has díí as 'four', so that's another typo they've got to fix

3 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Judorange123

Also, it should be tʼááłáʼí

3 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/EduMatOzone
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Very interesting observations and notes! It's also curious how some catalan and spanish words have a literal translation in navajo: dootłʼizhii comes (I think) from "dotzena" (/doot-je-nah/) a catalan word for 12 units (and not 10). That means turquoise thing, so if the coins were turquoise, they use a "12" word for a dime, but it seems logical! Really curious and interesting!

1 week ago
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