"My dad likes dogs."

Translation:Shizheʼé łééchąąʼí bił yáʼátʼééh.

November 20, 2018



How does the sequence of subject/ object/ verb work here?

November 20, 2018


Yáʼátʼééh! In the first attempt, I would say the structure here is:

Subject: Shizheʼé (My father / dad)
Object: łééchąąʼí (a dog / dogs / the dog / the dogs)
Postposition: bił (with him / her / it / them)
Verb: yáʼátʼééh (it is / they two are / good / fine / suitable; he / she / it is / they two are well)

But, since there is a verbal construction, bił + yáʼátʼééh, postposition + verb, I think the sentence order here is Object / Subject / Postposition / Verb, where the verb is conjugated in the third person, and it means that the same verb can affect the subject or the object, but the postposition bił affects only the first agent of the sentence, shizheʼé. I know the inversion of the subject / object can sound strange, but I think this can work as in Spanish: My dad (A mi papá, Object, literally "to my dad") like (le gustan, Verb, literally "they please to him") dogs (los perros, Subject, literally "the dogs", because the article here is mandatory), so the Spanish sentence "A mi papá le gustan los perros" is literally "The dogs please my dad". However, the order and postposition construction in Navajo is very different from Spanish or English.

I am not actually sure about the literal meaning of this, but perhaps I can give a few explanations. I really hope others can give more help.

I would take the form bił yáʼátʼééh as conjugated in the third person for both singular and plural, because I think the verb only, yáʼátʼééh, is literally "it is good" or "they are good".
The postposition bił affects the noun shizheʼé, so it would be "with him", instead of yił, meaning here "with it (the dog) / they / them (the dogs), and affecting the noun łééchąąʼí.
Then, the literal meaning (with a Subject-Verb-Object order) would be "(The) Dogs / (they) are good / with (him) / my dad", so "My dad likes (the) dogs". Note that in English, there is a preposition, "with", instead a postposition as in Navajo. And also, the "b" in bił is conjugating the postposition in the third person (in this case, it is indicating the first noun with the third person "he" in the sentence), but it is not the only possible conjugation in the third person, when in the English sentence there are the subject and object both in the third person. The letter "y" can appear for other sentence constructions that use the third person in the subject and object, but this is called the fourth person in Navajo, and it indicates the second noun with the third person in the sentence.

Here is a better explanation for postposition construction in Navajo sentences with third and fourth person declensions.


Navajo Sentence Structure--Postpositions / Diné Bizaad Bíhoosh’aah

I hope it helps. :)

November 22, 2018


Small corrections: y- is not the fourth person, but the "obviative" third person.

Also, there is a weirdness in the paradigm of such existential sentences in Navajo: whereas the subject of the verb refers to the second noun, the verb will take plural da- if the object is plural. Examples:
- Ashkii jooł bee hólǫ́: the boy has a ball
- Ashiiké jooł bee dahólǫ́: the boys have a ball

  • Shizhéʼé mósí bił yáʼátʼééh: my father likes cats
  • Danihizhéʼé mósí bił yáʼádaatʼééh: our fathers like cats.

This only applies to be-phrases (existential, adjectival), not do-phrases.

November 24, 2018


Thanks a lot! Now I think I can understand better with your clarification, and I really was expecting that. My confusion can occur for some moments, if I am using few resources. Because I was just reading from the conjugation charts in Wiktionary, where it is also mentioned as the obviative third person, but it can be confuse because it appears as fourth (3o) with the letter "y", as in the chart for yił. And the fourth person would use "h".


Also, there are some helpful videos, but I think those cannot cover the most part of responses for the various questions in the sentence forum. I have seen your post where this part of Navajo grammar about conjugations, pronouns, and postpositions is very well explained:


By now, I think some learners, including me, will still have some problems to understand the sentences, and this is perhaps because this first approach is intended to show us a part from singular conjugations, but the more complex forms, with duoplural (with more example translations), plural, or distributive conjugations will be in the next stage of the course, I hope so. Meanwhile, all the help is indeed welcome. :)

November 25, 2018


Oh! A revelation! The Navajo phrase "bił yá'át'ééh" is literally "it is good with him/her/it". It's the postposition "ił" + and the root "yá'át'ééh". So to say "I like dogs" would be "łééchąąʼí shił yá'át'ééh". Right?

April 19, 2019
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