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Been Listening to Navajo

September 3, 2011

I made a commitment for the month of August to listen to Navajo for 3 hours a day. Well, the month is over now and I would like to write about the experience. You can see what my baseline was for the month of July to the left. Scattered listening for half the month. So a commitment, I thought, would help to improve my frequency.

In the beginning listening was a bit annoying. I guess that will happen when one pursues a certain habit that was previously not apart of their regular day. I was no exception. Three hours was a lot of time, but I found the time to listen. That wasn’t the annoying part though. Listen to  Navajo was like I was little again, and my mom dragged me to a Chapter House meeting. Before, I could leave the building and play with the other kids outside…but now I made a commitment to stay and listen….no running away; even though I felt like it at times.

What helped with my interest in continuing to listen was some Navajo study outside my listening. If I heard a word that I had heard throughout my life, I went ahead and looked it up in a dictionary. Now I know what the word means and the audio I’m listening to makes a little more sense. I have heard some variations of words that I have learned in the Navajo App, more specifically the word associated with “help”. What I do outside of listening is helping me put together all the pieces. Listening is not as difficult anymore, it’s a regular part of my day now to actually hear Navajo for three hours.

So what did I listen to? I had a few sessions from General Conference, audio from some YouTube videos, and a bunch of audio from the NN Radio Network uploaded onto my iPod. It was nice to have a choice of what I wanted to listen to. I broke up the monotony. I did not have any transcription of the audio, which is something that could have been helpful. Some of the YouTube videos had transcriptions, but I never really had the time to type it out and add it to my iPod for a reference. Sometime throughout the month I remembered I had some Sharon Burch music on my iPod. I wanted to make her music apart of my three hours, but that wasn’t in the original commitment. Now that the month is over I will be adding more of her music into my listening. Not only because music can be easier to recall, but also because all of her songs come with Navajo and English lyrics.

I used the aTimeLogger app to keep track of my listening. I really liked this app because I don’t have to do any math after I have listened, the app will do that automatically. I also really liked the graphing function. I can see the number of hours that I have listen to Navajo for the month of August. I had a few days that were really difficult to find time to listen. I was away from home on one of the days for a family celebration, so I didn’t get to listen as much as I wanted to. I started to work full-time again, so that gave me some other challenges to reach my three-hour goal. Over all I have done well.

I have listened to 87 total hours for August. That is a lot of hours! The statistical data says that it is about 12% of my month. That is including my sleep time for the month, but if I only count those hours as part of my waking hours it is 17.5% of my day!!

I’ll continue to listen for the month of September, but I will start to add more music into the mix.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. September 3, 2011 1:26 pm

    Seems simple enough, huh? My issue is communicating with other speakers and maintaining and improving vocabulary. Sort of like being in an isolate community, how a language dies. If it weren’t for teaching I would be worst off. I need to make similar commitments about language among many others, so I commend you for your efforts.
    Yéego ínít’į́…

    • September 3, 2011 2:06 pm

      @Al Yazzie Yá’át’ééh! Dí’į́jį́ háánit’é? Aash yá’anit’ééh? Haitaó ałchini diné bizaad yidaahooł’aahdo? Doo deinizin da nahalin łéh. Derek yinishyé áádóó tsosts’id ts’áadah shinaahai.

    • September 28, 2011 10:28 pm

      Thanks. It is hard to learn with no one else around, hopefully that can change in the future.

  2. September 7, 2011 3:22 pm

    I’ve just discovered your blog, and I’m fascinated. The Navajo language has been a sort of back-burner interest of mine for many years, since I met and studied a little with the late Ken Hale. Ken was a remarkable individual, a linguistics professor at MIT who learned about fifty languages, and always tried to get native speakers started studying their own languages. The Navajo linguists Paul Platero and Ellavina Tsosie Perkins were his students. Ken himself learned Navajo in his late teens, working (I think I remember this correctly) at a health center in Navajo country. If you want to practice your Portuguese, you can read this interview that Ken gave to a Brazilian interviewer, in which he tells some of his experiences.

    You have Ken’s unpublished book on Navajo linguistics on your links list, and I urge you to give it a look. He explains the linguistic concepts you need for understanding how Navajo works very carefully, without assuming any knowledge in advance. Ken died in 2001, but he left behind wonderful resources, and many students to continue his deep respect for traditional languages and cultures.

    • September 28, 2011 10:31 pm

      Well I’m glad you found my blog. Yeah, I have been meaning to take a more in depth look at Hale’s documents. Which particular work were you referring to? Oh and thanks for the Portuguese link.

      • October 21, 2011 12:26 pm

        I’m sorry I took such a long time to answer your question. In your links section under “reading material”, about a third of the way down the page, you have the “Navajo Linguistics Archive Project”, subtitled the “Ken Hale Archive”. The work I was referring to in particular was Ken’s “Navajo Linguistics.” Start with Part Ia.

        At first, Ken talks about why Navajos might benefit from looking at their language from a linguist’s viewpoint, but soon he is discussing the language itself, and presenting many facts about Navajo grammar that you might have understood intuitively but were never able to put into words. Let me know if you find it interesting.

  3. September 11, 2011 8:39 pm

    Great Job! That was a big commitment and you really did it and with such consistency. I love that your biggest day was near the end of the month too. Pretty soon listening three hours a day will be a habit like brushing your teeth. If you don’t get it in, you’ll be staying up to finish it. How has it helped? Are you finding your comprehension really taking off? What have been the benifits?


    • September 28, 2011 10:42 pm

      If I learn a new word I usually can pick it out somewhere in the audio. It’s really exciting. It is also interesting to notice the difference between speakers pronunciation of the same word or phrase. The differences are subtle, but I can still recognize it is the same word. :)

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