Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Haish Diné Bizaad Neidínóotííł? "Whoʼs Going to Teach the Navajo Language?"
by Pete, Donovan, M.A., The University of Arizona, 2020, 79; 28027744
Abstract (Summary)

This thesis examines how Navajo language programs on the Navajo Nation are producing Diné Bizaad speakers and the challenges that seem to affect language teaching and learning. As a learner, I use my perspectives to examine concerns, questions, and accountability that have been raised from the community and put forward my own perspectives. The clash of viewpoints and responses all feed into the larger issue of language decline and shift. Through the thesis, the idea of Diné Bizaad Sustainability will act as a response to the goals of Diné Bizaad continuation.

Diné Bizaad is considered by Diné fluent speakers to be a vibrant and lively language used by many individuals on the Navajo Nation. Yet fluent speakers have their skepticism in the direction of how language teaching should occur. Many speakers have begun to gauge language reduction among their own generation, as well as younger generations. The strength of its usage from the community perspective is one that is widely measured through K’é recitation, phrases, conversations and tsodiszin “prayer” for self and through ceremonies.

Diné Bizaad ideologies and attitudes, that lean toward the negative, have proven very difficult to overcome especially in a time when fluent speakers feel they have guardianship of the language, and in turn, the culture too. The mindset which protects nitsíyatsokoos “how one thinks about it”, at times constructs mental and speech barriers, unnecessary struggles, and blocks the flow of information to encourage learners in becoming confident speakers.

The heart of language sustainability and continuation relies heavily on speakers of the younger generation. Through the thesis I discuss why it has been difficult for Diné Bizaad to produce more speakers, and other consequences: learners feeling at a disadvantage, instructors/teachers feeling powerless, the tribal government of the Navajo Nation’s lack of action, and the protection of Diné knowledge.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: De Lima Silva, Wilson
Commitee: Zepeda, Ofelia, Nicholas, Sheilah E
School: The University of Arizona
Department: Linguistics
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: MAI 82/1(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Linguistics, Language, Native American studies
Keywords: Diné Bizaad, Indigenous languages, Language decline, Language revitalization, Navajo
Publication Number: 28027744
ISBN: 9798662480155
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