Navajo Language

Diné Bizaad (or the Navajo Language) has the largest number of speakers of any Native language north of Mexico. Navajo territory is north-eastern Arizona, north-western New Mexico, and south-eastern Utah. The orthography follows the Athapaskan tradition, with the lateral fricative ł, nasal ą, and high tone marked by an acúte accent. Note that the letters b d j g represent a voiceless sound, not voiced as in English.

Note: There are several Roman Orthography conventions on this site that may require further explanation. On the charts below, there is lots of phonetic terminology that may not be familiar to everyone.

language codes

ISO 639-3 = nav
ISO 639-1 = na

The 1990 United States Census counts 142,886 speakers of Diné Bizaad.


  bilabial alveolar alveolar affricate lateral palato-alveolar palatal velar velar rounded glottal
voiceless stop b d dz dl j   g  
aspirated stop   t ts ch   k kw  
ejective stop   t’ ts’ tł’ ch’   k’    
voiced fricative     z ł zh   gh    
voiceless fricative     s   sh   x   h
nasal m n              
resonant       l   y   w  
voiceless resonant               hw  


  front central back
high i – ii    
mid e – ee   o – oo
low   a – aa  


  • Long vowels are written double.
  • High tone is indicated with an acúte accent. Low tone is unmarked. The letter ‹n› can also carry high or low tone: high tone ‹ń›.
  • Contour tones over long vowels are considered (orthographically at least) a juxtaposition of two short vowels of different tones:
    • Rising: ‹aá›
    • Falling: ‹áa›
  • Nasal vowels are indicated with an ogonęk accent, often called a “nasal hook”.
  • Combinations of high tone and nasal are common on a single vowel: ą́
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©2008 Chris Harvey/Languagegeek
Last Modified: 09-Jan-2009