January 29, 2013

Article: Watching the Ancient Navajo Language Develop in a Modern Culture

From http://www.currentargus.com/ci_22462945

Watching the ancient Navajo language develop in a modern culture
By Jenny Kane
January 18, 2013

 "Ya'at eeh," George Werito says, greeting thousands of radio listeners across the Navajo reservation in their native language, Diné.

He has callers on the line, waiting. People want to tell him about road conditions, chapter meetings, and church functions.

Werito, a radio personality at KNDN AM radio in Farmington, is considered the Jay Leno of the Navajo Nation, according to some of his listeners.

The news is hardly news that Leno himself would share: lost turtles, funeral announcements, and pow wow updates. However, when Werito speaks, his audience listens.

And the Navajo language needs the peoples' attention more than ever, according to those trying to preserve it.

About half of the Navajo reservation's population currently speaks Diné, but the language is changing with its people.

In some ways, the changes are good — a broadening vocabulary, for instance. In other ways — fewer people are learning the vocabulary -- the changes are bad.

Read the full article at http://www.currentargus.com/ci_22462945

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