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Setting the Record Straight About Native Languages: Hopi and Tibetan Words for Sun and Moon

Q: I heard that the Hopi word for "sun" is the same as the Tibetan word for "moon," and the Tibetan word for "sun" is the same as the Hopi word for "moon." Is that true?
A: No, that is false. The true part is that the Tibetan word for moon is dawa, which sounds similar to the Hopi word for sun, taawa. However, there is no such similarity in reverse. The Tibetan word for "sun" is nyima, while the Hopi word for "moon" is muuyaw. Those words do not sound anything alike.

Q: Does the similarity between dawa and taawa mean that the Hopi and Tibetan languages are related?
A: No, it's just an interesting coincidence. In any two languages, you can find a few words that sound similar. If Hopi and Tibetan were actually related to each other, there would be many vocabulary similarities, not just one, and the sound systems and grammar of the two languages would be similar.

Q: Is it true that Hopiland and Tibet are on exactly the opposite side of the world from each other, so that if you drilled from one straight through the center of the earth you would come out at the other?
A: Definitely not! Tibet and the Hopi lands in modern-day Arizona are both in the Northern Hemisphere, so it would be impossible to draw a line from one to the other through the center of the earth. I don't know who started this odd rumor, but it wasn't anyone with access to a globe! The opposite side of the world from Hopi land appears to be just off the west coast of Australia, and the opposite side of the world from Tibet seems to be in the South Pacific ocean west of Chile.



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