By the end of the first day they had devised the alphabet. They repeated it until it was committed to memory, and fell asleep repeating it to themselves. They had to come up with words in English that had Navajo counterparts. Most letters had two or three words, such as ant, apple, and axe for A, badger, bear, and barrel for B, and so on. Only V, W, X, and Z had one word only. The word for W is weasel and the Navajo word for weasel is gloe-ih.
After the alphabet they created 211 Navajo words to substitute for military terms that were nonexistent in Navajo.
Commanding General=War Chief
Major General=2 Star
Organizations were more difficult, so they substituted Navajo clan names for many of them.
Substitute words for aircraft were much easier. Birds seen on the reservation prvovided easy to remember substitutes.
Dive Bomber=chicken hawk
Fighter Plane=humming bird
Navajo names of fish and water mammals were chosen for ships.
Terms frequently used in battle needed Navajo synonyms.
Some substitutes were chosen for shape or resemblance.
Countries took on names with special meanings to the Navajos.
America=Our Mother (loved this one)
Because the Navajo did not measure time as the Americans and Europeans did, their language had no terms for months of the year. They chose words that described the season or the events that took place at that time of year.
The Navajo words cannot be pronounced as they are written. The English alphabet alone cannot produce the pronunciation or the true meaning. Many accent and phonetic marks are needed to represent the tone and pitch of each syllable and the gutteral sounds so unfamiliar to the non-Navajo. Even a Navajo would need to know which dialect was being used.
Next: How the Code Was Used