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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

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