Speech play and language ideologies in Navajo terminology development

Leighton C. Peterson and Anthony K. Webster

Abstract

In this article we combine a concern with speech play and language ideologies to investigate contemporary Navajo terminology development. This article presents some recent cases of lexical elaboration in context, and argues that neologisms in Navajo are often fleeting, shifting, or humorous practices that reflect and recreate individual agency, intimate grammars, and local language ideologies. They also reflect an unexpected continuity in what is considered to be a context of rapid language shift. Such practices are one form of resistance to English and should be seen as a sociocultural, rather than purely referential, phenomenon.

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