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Navajo code talker recalls WWII role in tricking Japanese

19 Comments
By BRIAN SKOLOFF

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19 Comments
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Hats off to you Mr Hawthorne and to your Navajo brothers for the roles you played in defeating IJA using your language.

A few years back I traveled through the Navajo nation where I heard Dine, the Navajo language spoken. The US does not have an official national language and in traveling around the country many languages can be heard, helping make the US a more interesting place to visit.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

The Navajo language more difficult than Japanese? !

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Reminds me of that Nicholas Cage flick- "Windtalkers." Good movie.

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Better be careful... Japan might threaten to pull funding for... umm... if this article gets out!

Good on Hawthorne and the other Navajo for doing their part, and I'm glad they're getting proper credit and being remembered, as they should be.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

This is one of the greatest WWII stories that have not been told so well. The movie "Wind Talkers" changed many of the facts just to make it Hollywood acceptable. It is more of a history lesson, and an example of how patriotic "Americans - and Native Americans at that" used their bravery and intellect to defeat the enemy.

Another similar example from WWII is the black squadron of pilots who were so successful in protecting our bomber crews. (Tuskegee Airmen) See the movie Redtails for more detail.

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Can somebody tell me why they decided on the Navajo language rather than one of the other Native American languages? Furthermore, does Navajo have any cousins (is it one of a number of languages in a specific family)?

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The US Army used Choctaw speakers for the same purpose in WW1.

There's a splendid monument to the code talkers at the headquarters of the Navaho Nation at Window Rock, Arizona. I have seen and photographed it.

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Though the Navajo were the most famous code talkers, there were other Native American tribes who carried out similar duties during WWII, but unfortunately they are never mentioned in the media.

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I hope they have finally written it down.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

crustpunker,

Don't forget the vocal cord parasites. Quarantine the Kikongo...

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HongoTAFEinmateNOV. 12, 2015 - 11:19AM JST Can somebody tell me why they decided on the Navajo language rather than one of the other Native American languages?

Wikipedia's "Code Talker" article doesn't explicitly say the answer (at least as far as I saw), but it seems that Native American languages were used to some degree in other conflicts, but Navajo was used in the Pacific Theater because it is estimated that apart from the man who proposed it to the military, no more than 30 people outside the Navajo community could even speak the language.

Furthermore, does Navajo have any cousins (is it one of a number of languages in a specific family)?

Navajo is part of the Na-Dene language family, so it would have many cousins across America. However (again according to Wikipedia) has a much more complex grammar, so it is unintelligible to speakers of related languages.

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@HongoTAFE

To add to what @Katsu wrote:

<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athabaskan_languages

And trust this source or not: :D https://www.cia.gov/news-information/featured-story-archive/2008-featured-story-archive/navajo-code-talkers/

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On the way to Monument Valley, there's a town with a Burger King that has an article on the Navajo code talkers on the wall.

My Japanese travel companion saw it and read it with interest. I didn't notice the article until she pointed it out to me.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Brave men. The Australian army should have done the same with one of the Aboriginal languages

0 ( +0 / -0 )

How?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

As to why the Navajo languge was used and why it is so difficult it's all about location. The Navajo nation is in a rough part of the US and there is not much there so early settlers had little or no use for their land, so they were left alone for the most part. What that means linguisticly is they didn't pickup many loan words which made their language unique. This plus the grammar and the code words used made it impossible for all but native speakers. I kind of grew up in that high desert, I love that place. Lots of good people.

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How?

Easily.

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Hero! Thank you for your service.

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They should have used this trick on the calvary. The native Americans, as an indigenous tribe didn't get anything from their contribution except a lot of empty thanks. Their reservations are pitiful.

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