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Navajo Word For Love

navajocodetalkersadmin on December 6, 2017 - 10:00 am in Navajo History

There are six thousand nine hundred and nine languages in the world. This excludes all extinct languages or dialects that are no longer spoken. Before we get to the Navajo word for love, it is necessary to note that every language evolves over time. The languages undergo transformations triggered by reforms from within the community or tribe and with considerable influence from other languages. From Latin to Greek, English to Spanish, every major language spoken around the world has been influenced by one or more languages. Sanskrit, which is considered to be the oldest documented language in the world, has been used as a source for words and meanings as well as grammar by many languages, including English.

Languages that tend to remain insular or do not transform through subsequent generations tend to be stagnant, almost static. The lack of a dynamic evolution prevents the language from being relevant. This is one reason why many languages have become obsolete and why English is the dominant language in the world. English is still evolving with many new words finding their place in the dictionary every year to reflect the contemporary use of the language.

There is no Navajo word for love. There are substitutes, there are words that can be used to mean the same thing and there are phrases that can have almost the same essence but there is no Navajo word for love that can be literally translated as such. It may seem strange but there are languages that have multiple words for love. English has many words that can be used as alternatives but they don’t exactly or literally mean love. Admire is a kind of love, so is adore or affection but none of these are actually implied to express what love literally means. However, Hindi or Bengali and many other languages have multiple words that literally mean love.

In Navajo, you can say ‘ayóó anííníshní’ to mean ‘I love you’. There is a variation you could use as well, ayóó ánóshní, which also has the same meaning. But none of these words in Navajo actually mean love. ‘Ayóó’ actually means ‘very’ or ‘a lot’. It refers to magnitude. ‘Ánííníshní’ means ‘regard’ or you could say ‘adore’. It is used as a verb and hence must always be assessed in the context it is used. In effect, the phrase actually means ‘I adore you’ or ‘I regard you’. The latter can be grammatically corrected for English to read ‘I have regard for you’. As you can see, there is no exact Navajo word for love.

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