Last of the Code Talkers

navajoseal

The last surviving member of the original 29 Navajo Code Talkers, Chester Nez, died on June 4 at his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Nez was recruited into the U.S. Marine Corps in 1942 and was honorably discharged in 1945 with the rank of corporal. These Code Talkers developed and transmitted messages in a code based on their native Navajo language during the Pacific Theater of World War II.

Code talkers were people who used obscure languages as a means of secret communication during wartime. Today the term is strongly associated with the bilingual Navajo speakers specially recruited during World War II by the Marines to serve in their standard communications units.  Their language skills significantly improved the speed of communication in front line operations.

Why was Navajo chosen as code?  Navajo has a complex grammar and was at the time an unwritten language. It was spoken only on the Navajo lands of the American Southwest, and its syntax, tonal qualities, and dialects, made it virtually undecipherable to anyone outside the reservations.

Some terms, such as “go-fasters” referring to running shoes and “ink sticks” for pens, have entered Marine Corps vocabulary and are still commonly used today.  Navajo language keyboards are available for both Androids and iPhones.

Around the world, there is a revitalization of interest in preserving dying languages.  UNESCO classes Navaho as “vulnerable”, the least endangered of their five classes of at-risk languages.  A number of bilingual immersion schools operate within Navajo-speaking regions to preserve and promote usage of the language.  Classes in the language are also taught at Arizona State University with the goal of connecting Navajos and non-Navajo alike to a rich heritage.angry racerзначение поисковых системвзлом почты яндекс зная логин

  • http://kieranmaynard.com/ Kieran

    Very interesting that Navajo calques actually entered English during that time. Are there any other examples of “obscure” languages being used in this way? I remember reading a story last year about a hostage crisis in Wuhan, China. Once the police determined the suspect was unable to understand local Wuhan dialect, they communicated in dialect and lured the suspect into an area where he could be subdued.