Navajo dictionaries and grammar books

Socrates
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Navajo dictionaries and grammar books

Postby Socrates » 2012-03-29, 10:13

Hello to everybody.

My name is Rich, and I have a confession to make: I am addicted... to languages. There. I've said it.

I started with the easy ones, like French and Afrikaans, and then moved onto the more exotic ones, like Ancient Greek, Japanese and Biblical Hebrew. But now only the hardest sort will hit the spot, and the Native American languages I have examined have such an unparalleled complexity and profound beauty that... well, preaching to the converted? I apologise for that and my rambling.

My access to Native American languages is somewhat hampered by my geography (England) and my budget (more or less in a state of nullibiety). I have therefore elected to focus on Cree (Moose) and Navajo, and this post concerns the latter.

It is my intention to work through the basic books I have (below) and then build up my grammatical and lexical capabilities. Hence, I am looking for recommendations on more formal grammars (especially those analysing the deliciously complex verb) and a decent dictionary.

So far I have managed to acquire Breakthrough Navajo, Navajo Made Easier (rather splendid and most accessible), Colloquial Navaho (sic) A Dictionary, the Hippocrene Navajo-English Dictionary, and The Navajo Verb System (somewhat intimidating until my level increases). I am strongly considering incurring the financial wrath of my wife by ordering Faltz's book on the Navajo Verb, as it seems to be highly recommended. I should love to acquire Goossen's Diné Bizaad, but the price for this in England is only marginally less than the cost of a hit-man, the services of whom my wife would undoubtedly retain were I to purchase the book.

I should be most grateful if anyone who has experience with any of the following would do me the kindness of briefly describing the nature and qualities of each:

The Navajo Language: A Grammar and Colloquial Dictionary - Young & Neundorf

Analytical Lexicon of Navajo - Young & Morgan

Diné Bizaad Binahoo'aah - Evangeline Parsons Yazzie

And just for the sake of it, has anyone given a serious look at the aforementioned The Navajo Verb System by Robert Young? With my current appreciation of the Navajo language (embarrassingly basic: think of your average kangaroo being asked to prove the General Theory of Relativity through the medium of ballet) it looks as if Young's work seeks to strip the verb down into its semi-theoretical nuts-and-bolts.

The other dictionary I am considering has an enormously helpful preview, courtesy of Google books... http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/A ... edir_esc=y




As I am disabled, my need is for physical books; I cannot sit at a computer poring over pdf versions for very long, and I simply cannot afford the luxury of a Kindle or similar. Besides, I am definitely kinaesthetic, relishing the tactile experience of a paper-laden peregrination through philological fancy and linguistic legerdemain.

Many thanks in advance.
Rich

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Re: Navajo dictionaries and grammar books

Postby księżycowy » 2012-03-29, 22:48

My access to Native American languages is somewhat hampered by my geography (England) and my budget (more or less in a state of nullibiety). I have therefore elected to focus on Cree (Moose) and Navajo, and this post concerns the latter.

Very good choices! :wink:

Though I'm curious, why the focus on Moose Cree?

I should be most grateful if anyone who has experience with any of the following would do me the kindness of briefly describing the nature and qualities of each:

The Navajo Language: A Grammar and Colloquial Dictionary - Young & Neundorf

Analytical Lexicon of Navajo - Young & Morgan

Diné Bizaad Binahoo'aah - Evangeline Parsons Yazzie

And just for the sake of it, has anyone given a serious look at the aforementioned The Navajo Verb System by Robert Young?

Unfortunately I don't have any of those books, so I'm not much help.
I have Wilson's books and Goossen's Diné Bizaad.
I especially like Wilson's books.

But as the resident leader of the (insane . . ?) I felt I need to assure you someone's reading!

Socrates
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Re: Navajo dictionaries and grammar books

Postby Socrates » 2012-03-30, 8:06

Dear Księżycowy,

Many thanks for your reply.

Re: Moose Cree - it is primarily the availability thing. The only books I can obtain of any substance are the Spoken Cree series by good old C. Douglas Ellis. Perhaps a little on the dry side, but full of linguistic (and even some cultural) information. It's a shame the only Cree dictionary in print and available is the Alberta Elders' volume... a marvellous lexicon, but a substantially different dialect. I suspect I'll compile my own glossary of Moose once I've acquired a copy of a singularly enticing volume on Cree legends.

I enjoyed reading your own reviews on Amazon (USA) regarding numerous languages, and note from your page on resources on this wonderful site that you have the second book by Alan Wilson. I only have the first, and despite faint printing here and there, find it to be more than useful. How much deeper does the Intermdediate Navajo explore the language? While I'm thinking of it, are there any Navajo texts in modern orthography?

My own interest in languages is philological in the original sense: a love of languages. Whilst I shall focus primarily on Navajo and Cree, I should very much like to explore the intricacies of other Native American languages. Ideally one or two more from the Athabaskan and Algonquian (any recommendations welcome from anyone, but preferably physical books rather than pdf?)

I'd love to have a decent look at something rom the Iroquois (sadly difficult to encounter in the UK); definitely something from the Sioux (already have Hocak Teaching Materials vol 1, but not really suitable for learning from scratch); Muskogean (perhaps Chickasaw or Creek); Uto-Aztecan (Comanche seems reasonably available here).

One thing I especially enjoy is comparing vocabulary and grammar. Yes, I know, I need to get out more.

A rule of thumb I tend to use is that the more linguistically complicated a language, the more ancient its roots. The Native American languages I have so far examined are undoubtedly the most complex (and utterly exquisite) I have encountered. Perhaps Basque is the nearest in this regard from elsewhere.

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Re: Navajo dictionaries and grammar books

Postby księżycowy » 2012-03-30, 12:08

Socrates wrote:Re: Moose Cree - it is primarily the availability thing. The only books I can obtain of any substance are the Spoken Cree series by good old C. Douglas Ellis. Perhaps a little on the dry side, but full of linguistic (and even some cultural) information. It's a shame the only Cree dictionary in print and available is the Alberta Elders' volume... a marvellous lexicon, but a substantially different dialect. I suspect I'll compile my own glossary of Moose once I've acquired a copy of a singularly enticing volume on Cree legends.

Yeah, I've had trouble tracking down Cree dictionaries myself. Most of the one's I use are online.

And Ellis' book is great, I suspected that was the reason you were doing Moose Cree. Hope to study some Cree myself someday. I'm honestly not so sure of Navajo anymore.

I enjoyed reading your own reviews on Amazon (USA) regarding numerous languages, and note from your page on resources on this wonderful site that you have the second book by Alan Wilson. I only have the first, and despite faint printing here and there, find it to be more than useful. How much deeper does the Intermdediate Navajo explore the language? While I'm thinking of it, are there any Navajo texts in modern orthography?

Intermediate Navajo pretty much sticks to the same formula as Breakthrough Navajo does. In terms of verbs, it still doesn't actually break them down like other books (Goossen and especially Faltz come to mind for this). It primarily just has longer dialogues and readings (but not that much longer).

I should very much like to explore the intricacies of other Native American languages. Ideally one or two more from the Athabaskan and Algonquian (any recommendations welcome from anyone, but preferably physical books rather than pdf?)

I'd love to have a decent look at something rom the Iroquois (sadly difficult to encounter in the UK); definitely something from the Sioux (already have Hocak Teaching Materials vol 1, but not really suitable for learning from scratch); Muskogean (perhaps Chickasaw or Creek); Uto-Aztecan (Comanche seems reasonably available here).

Hmmmm, a tall order indeed! :mrgreen:

I'm not sure whether you have access to a printer, and how you feel about reading printed documents (pdfs and such), but that might be a way to go. As I could easily recommend some Arapaho, Onieda, Deina'ina, and Koyukon resources.

As for Sioux, I highly recommend the Beginning Lakota books by the University of Colorado (which offers international shipping, if I'm not mistaken). Though they're not exactly cheap. But you can shave some money off by not getting the audio, so it's been posted online elsewhere.

Uto-Aztecan I would go with either Shoshoni or Nahuatl here, they have the best and most available resources that I've seen. Personally I have some Shoshoni materials and they are great.

Muskogean is a bit of a mixed bag with me, I love the books they have for it, I would highly recommend either Creek or Chotaw as they have great textbooks. But the audio is lacking! The Creek textbooks do come with audio, but it's not exactly set to the lessons. (Which reminds me, I still have to get the intermediate textbooks for both :whistle: )

Socrates
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Re: Navajo dictionaries and grammar books

Postby Socrates » 2012-03-30, 18:40

księżycowy wrote:Hmmmm, a tall order indeed! :mrgreen:


The tall ones are the most fun!

When I tried searching for the Beginning Lakota series, I ended up on a most fascinating page from UCLA which brought loads of other works as well, including a book alluringly entitled 550 Dakota Verbs. It has lists for others, including Navajo, Cree and Cherokee.

Shoshoni looks promising. The Introduction to Shoshoni is available in the benighted backwaters of Britain, as well as Newe Hupia, which appears to be a bilingual treatment of Shoshoni songs, and with a reasonably hefty glossary. Thanks for the recommendation.

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Re: Navajo dictionaries and grammar books

Postby księżycowy » 2012-03-30, 21:11

When I tried searching for the Beginning Lakota series, I ended up on a most fascinating page from UCLA which brought loads of other works as well, including a book alluringly entitled 550 Dakota Verbs. It has lists for others, including Navajo, Cree and Cherokee.

I believe I know what page you're talking about. It is a great resource, though it can be hard (if not impossible in some cases) to find some of the works mentioned.

Shoshoni looks promising. The Introduction to Shoshoni is available in the benighted backwaters of Britain, as well as Newe Hupia, which appears to be a bilingual treatment of Shoshoni songs, and with a reasonably hefty glossary. Thanks for the recommendation.

Yup, that's the textbook I have. They even offer the audio free as a download on iTunes University!
I don't have Newe Hupia, but I do have another reader from the University of Utah.
Either way, I'm more then happy to help!

Oh, and as far as the Iroquoian languages, you might want to look into Mohawk. There's a site that sells Mohawk: A Teaching Grammar and Iakorihonnien:nis. Though expect to pay a pretty penny. I just ordered the second book today in fact.

All of the info for a lot of these books are on my "Learning Resources" page, of course. :)


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