Is Navajo an appropriate language to try to learn to read and write in or is it mainly oral?

Asking because I have a speech impairment and live in the northeast. Not a lot of chances to be able to practice it so far from the Dine culture. Even if I lived somewhere nearby, writing would still be my main form of communicating. So, I was wondering if it's mainly a language that is oral, rather than written. Are there novels written in Navajo? Newspapers? Captioned movies? (hearing impairment, and would help me with listening comprehension)

October 25, 2018


There is almost nothing written, the use is mainly oral. No novel, no newspaper.. What you'd have is an article in a local newspaper otherwise in English, or some children book around traditional living. The main written material is the Bible and some governmental / administrative material (elections,...) and some medical. Back in the 1970s there used to be a newspaper by the famous Young and Morgan, they also compiled many stories, myths and testimonies.

October 25, 2018

So what you are saying is that learners of this language should focus on developing their listening, speaking and pronunciation skills with Navajo?

I think, since I am speech impaired and hard of hearing, joining a Facebook group that focuses on written Navajo may be best for me to practice Navajo with.

I'm also wondering if the Navajo have their own sign language, like Plains Indian Sign Language (but wikipedia says there's only 75 speakers of that left?)

October 25, 2018

I asked a Navajo and he he was stumped by the question. He said he really had no idea.

October 25, 2018

Not Navajo captioned, but it is in Navajo.

October 25, 2018

Good question!

I saw

"...I’d been working on learning some basics of the language. My job in legal aid meant I often served a Navajo population that was elderly and spoke little English. If I wanted to communicate effectively and respectfully, I needed to learn some Diné Bizaad. I think many non-Natives might be surprised how much Navajo is spoken and written daily on the reservation. If you want to do your grocery shopping or you need to fill our government forms or you simply want to know what’s going on at the local high school that weekend, it helps to be able to read at least a bit of the language..."

However, you live far away so this doesn't fully apply to your situation.

It does apply to Navajo being written, and make me guess that there will be more written in Navajo in the future. :)

Also, I read the novel written by the same person who wrote the article - it's good! :)

October 27, 2018

I recently spoke with spoke who is Navajo and his family still lives in the Navajo nation. He just got back a few days ago from visiting there for a week. He was lamenting that only a few people speak Navajo and almost all of them are older Navajo. He said almost none of the younger Navajo speak or understand any of the language. He said he fears that Navajo will disappear from the planet with 20 to 30 years.

October 27, 2018

The language is traditionally oral. It was only transcribed into latin characters within the last hundred years. (I'm not sure when exactly.)

November 1, 2018
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