Nkásht íí

My Lipan Apache ghost story appeared in Strange Horizons this week. I’m incredibly honored! If you like fantasy and science fiction, check out Strange Horizons. It’s a weekly zine that’s accessible online and in podcast form. I started reading SH as a teenage Little Badger, and its fiction, reviews, and poetry have expanded my imagination and introduced me to many wonderful writers over the years.

“Nkásht íí” means “I love (want) you” in a certain Jicarilla dialect [1]. The want aspect nicely complements this particular ghost story …

But why did I choose a Jicarilla phrase instead of a Lipan phrase? Well, the character Annie is descended from Lipan, Jicarilla, and Mescalero Apaches – these groups have an interesting history together. Further, the Lipan language is borderline extinct, although my tribe is making efforts preserve whatever we can. Jicarilla is still spoken fluently by some natives, and it’s been documented in the Dictionary of Jicarilla Apache: Abáachi Mizaa Ilkee’ Siijai (Apache Languages and English Edition [2]. If you’re interested in learning more, the Dictionary of Jicarilla Apache is a thorough resource.

By the way, I love Jicarilla pronouns. In English, there are singular and plural pronouns, like so:

  • Singular 1st = I
  • Singluar 2nd = you
  • Singular 3rd = he/she (or singular they)
  • Plural 1st = we
  • Plural 2nd = you
  • Plural 3rd = they

In Jicarilla, there are singular, plural, AND dual pronouns:

  • Singular 1st = I
  • Singluar 2nd = you
  • Singular 3rd = he/she (or singular they)
  • Plural 1st = we
  • Plural 2nd = you
  • Plural 3rd = they
  • Dual 1st = we two
  • Dual 2nd = you two
  • Dual 3rd = they two

This emphasizes the importance of dynamic duos! Isn’t that cool?

Also, the Jicarilla word for “badger” is “Nagoosch’idn,” so that makes me Miss Nagoosch’idn. 🙂


1. Wilson, A. & Martine R. V. Apache Jicarilla (1996): Audio Forum

2. Olson, M., Phone, W. & Martinez, M. Dictionary of Jicarilla Apache (2007): University of New Mexico Press. Edited by Melissa Axelrod, Jule Gomez de Garcia, & Jordan Lachler.

6 thoughts on “Nkásht íí

  1. Thursday R&R: “Nkásht íí” by Darcie Little Badger | M.J. Diedrich

  2. Ohmigosh, I read your story last week on Strange Horizons and found it absolutely cool. The image of Annie with big yellow eyes sitting on the edge of the bathtub is burned into my brain. …I don’t suppose you would mind a bit of a follow for your bloggyness? ^_^

    • Yessss! Welcome to my blog – muahaha! Thank you for reading Nkasht ii. I’m really happy you enjoyed it, especially the scary owl eye bits. As a big horror fan, I have the most fun writing when stories take a spooky turn.

      Also, regarding your post “The Unbearable Lightness of Beverages,” I bought one of those fancy, multiple-temp water heaters a couple weeks ago for my tea, since I drink a whole variety of loose-leaf green, white, black, and herbal. The temperature flexibility really does make a difference. It’s a great investment! 😀

  3. March's Short Fiction Reviews | Strangely Charmless

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