Traditional Navajo Taboos
The Power of Language
Navajos have language taboos that reflect their respect for the power of words.
- Do not say "chindi" (evil spirit or one will come to you and do
- Do not use the name of a dead person because the ghost will come visit you
and do you harm.
- Do not talk about someone you do not actually know because they might be
dead and you will call them.
- Do not talk about killing yourself, because someone else in your family
will die in your place.
- Do not thank people who help with a funeral because they will be the next
- Do not pretend to pray or cry for no reason because someone in your family
will die. If you pray for no reason, then you are wishing for that to
- Do not laugh or make joke at old people because some day you will be worse
- Do not lie about yourself because bad things will come true.
- Do not say your own name too much or your ears will dry up.
- Do not use your own name because you will wear it our, or have bad luck, or
your ears will fall off.
- Do not make up names for yourself or you will get a bad name.
- Do not tell your age because your will grow old faster.
- Do not brag about your valuable things or you will lose them.
- Do not criticize a poor family or you will get poorer than that family.
- Do not tell a person to go to hell because it might happen.
- Do not keep secrets from your grandmother or you will get old before your
- Do not talk about your illness or you will have a worse one.
- Do not make plans at night for the next day because they will not come
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