Navajo/Disambiguation

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Potential ambiguity

Ambiguity in Possession

PX1DPL and PX2DPL

We were able to identify a few sources of potential ambiguity in Navajo. The first and likely the hardest to disambiguate would be both the px1dpl and px2dpl forms of nouns. It appears that the possessive subject prefix is the same for the two, which would lead to ambiguity. Consider the following examples:

1.) Our hands are dirty

2.) Your hands are dirty.

In English, it is immediately clear to whom the hands belong to because of the posessive determiner preceding the noun. However, in Navajo, the sentences would look something like this:

1.) nihílaʼ (are dirty)

2.) nihílaʼ (are dirty)

If these sentences had not been given corresponding numbers, it would be syntactically and morphologically impossible to determine whose hands the speaker is referring to. This type of ambiguity can only be resolved by delving into semantics and probability, which we are unable to implement.