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Why Navajo Content is Hard to Find

April 22, 2011

I have had this blog for about a year and I am still slowly coming across content that has anything to do with learning the Navajo language. I started out using the simplest way to search for content: Google and other search engines. I used varying matches of keywords in the search engines to find anything and everything on the Navajo language.

It has taken sometime rummaging through different websites and broken links to get the links page that I have provided for the public. Other than providing links to the more well known sites, I wanted to find lesser known sites. These are difficult to find.

The greatest reasons for obscurity had to do with the naming of pages or content, along with spelling in Navajo.

Naming Issues
It seems as though everyone who is interested in uploading content related to Navajos label the title with Navajo, Navaho, or Dine. There is usually two of the three classification included in the content of the search results I have come across.  Having at least two classifications helps with searching, however there are some titles of pages that do not have a classification of Navajo, Navajo or Dine and instead use some Navajo sentence or phrase that no one is familiar with.

Example, there was a YouTube video title I ran into awhile back that was written completely in Navajo(glottal stops included). I had no idea what the title was saying. I was not surprised to see that this particular video had very few hits. Another example is a playlist in YouTube that is title “taa dineh nishtli”.  Labeling this playlist as such does not allow others to find it or to alert the searcher as what it is about.

So for the future, my fellow tribesmen, label and name your articles, blog, websites, and YouTube videos appropriately. You want your content to be found.

Spelling is another concern. There are a few ways to categorize something as “Navajo”. There’s the old fashion way of spelling using an “h“, Navaho. What becomes confusing is when people started using Diné. Diné is another, I guess you could say, more accurate term for our tribe. Some Navajo individuals would rather be called Diné than Navajo. This is fine, however I have found more than one form of spelling Diné. I have also seen other forms with the spelling: Dineh, Dine, Dene and Dine‘ (with the apostrophe after).

But can you see how confusing this can be already? There is the same problem with spelling “Hello” in Navajo. Ya’aa’teeh is acceptable, but you can also add all the accents with glottal stops and get Yá´áá´tééh.  I have also seen it as Ya´tah´hey, Yá´át´ééh or Ya-tah-hey.

The examples I have given are simple one word examples. Now think of webpages that have phrases or sentences. I have discovered differences in spelling because there is no absolute. So far with Google, and other search engines, I have been able to pull up results for both Navajo and Navaho when either is entered. But, are all relevant pages caught?

So keep in mind when naming pages, websites, videos, etc….to use an appropriate name and appropriate spelling. There are other ways to keep from labeling your content with every alternate spelling you can think of, but that will have to wait until next week.

To be continued….

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