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200px, Number of speakers Cherokee or Tsalagi (, ) is an endangered-to- moribund
Iroquoian language The Iroquoian languages are a language family of indigenous peoples of North America The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the inhabitants of the Americas before the arrival of the European colonization of the Americas, European settlers ...

Iroquoian language
and the
native language A first language, native tongue, native language, or mother/father/parent tongue (also known as arterial language or L1), is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), ...
of the
Cherokee The Cherokee (; chr, ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯᎢ, translit=Aniyvwiyaʔi, or chr, ᏣᎳᎩ, links=no, translit=Tsalagi) are one of the indigenous people of the Southeastern Woodlands of the United States. Prior to the 18th century, they were concentr ...
people.
Ethnologue ''Ethnologue: Languages of the World'' (stylized as Ethnoloɠue) is an annual reference publication in print and online that provides statistics and other information on the living languages of the world. It was first issued in 1951, and is now ...
states that there were 1,520 Cherokee speakers out of 376,000 Cherokee in 2018, while a tally by the three Cherokee tribes in 2019 recorded ~2,100 speakers. The number of speakers is in decline. About eight fluent speakers die each month, and only a handful of people under the age of 40 are fluent. The dialect of Cherokee in Oklahoma is "definitely endangered", and the one in North Carolina is "severely endangered" according to
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a specialised agency United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous organ ...

UNESCO
. The Lower dialect, formerly spoken on the South Carolina–Georgia border, has been extinct since about 1900. The dire situation regarding the future of the two remaining dialects prompted the Tri-Council of Cherokee tribes to declare a state of emergency in June 2019, with a call to enhance revitalization efforts. Around 200 speakers of the Eastern (also referred to as the Middle or Kituwah) dialect remain in North Carolina and
language preservationLanguage preservation is the effort to prevent languages from becoming unknown. A language is at risk of being lost when it no longer is taught to younger generations, while fluent speakers of the language (usually the elderly) die. Basis Language ...
efforts include the
New Kituwah Academy The New Kituwah Academy (Cherokee language, Cherokee: , '; ), also known as the Atse Kituwah Academy, is a private school, private bilingual Cherokee language, Cherokee- and English-language immersion school for Cherokee students in kindergarten ...
, a bilingual immersion school. The largest remaining group of Cherokee speakers is centered around
Tahlequah, Oklahoma Tahlequah ( ; ''Cherokee'': ᏓᎵᏆ, ''da-tle-qua'') is a city in Cherokee County, Oklahoma located at the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. It is part of the Green Country region of Oklahoma and was established as a capital of the Cherokee Na ...

Tahlequah, Oklahoma
, where the Western (Overhill or Otali) dialect predominates. The Cherokee Immersion School (''Tsalagi Tsunadeloquasdi'') in Tahlequah serves children in federally recognized tribes from pre-school up to grade 6. Cherokee is
polysynthetic In morphological typology, linguistic typology, polysynthetic languages are highly synthetic languages, i.e. languages in which word (linguistics), words are composed of many morphemes (word parts that have independent meaning but may or may not be ...
, the only Southern Iroquoian language, and it uses a writing system. As a polysynthetic language, Cherokee is highly different from
Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing ...
such as English, French, or Spanish, and can be difficult for adult learners to acquire. A single Cherokee word can convey ideas that would require multiple English words to express, including the context of the assertion, connotations about the speaker, the action, and the object of the action. The morphological complexity of the Cherokee language is best exhibited in verbs, which comprise approximately 75% of the language, as opposed to only 25% of the
English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading language of international discourse in the 21st centu ...

English language
. Verbs must contain at minimum a
pronominal In linguistics and grammar, a pronoun (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ) is a word that substitutes for a noun or noun phrase. Pronouns have traditionally been regarded as one of the part of speech, parts of speech, but some modern th ...

pronominal
prefix A prefix is an affix which is placed before the Word stem, stem of a word. Adding it to the beginning of one word changes it into another word. For example, when the prefix ''un-'' is added to the word ''happy'', it creates the word ''unhappy'' ...
, a verb root, an
aspect Aspect or Aspects may refer to: Entertainment * ''Aspect magazine ASPECT Volume 9: Performance ''ASPECT'' was a biannual DVD The DVD (common abbreviation for Digital Video Disc or Digital Versatile Disc) is a digital optical disc data stor ...
suffix, and a modal suffix.Feeling et al., "Verb" p. 16 Extensive documentation of the language exists, as it is the indigenous language of North America in which the most literature has been published. Such publications include a Cherokee dictionary and grammar as well as several editions of the
New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Christian biblical canon. It discusses the teachings and person of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus, as w ...

New Testament
and
Psalms The Book of Psalms ( or ; he, תְּהִלִּים, , lit. "praises"), commonly referred to simply as Psalms, the Psalter or "the Psalms", is the first book of the ''Ketuvim'' ("Writings"), the third section of the Tanakh, and a book of the Ch ...

Psalms
of the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Greek ...
and the ''
Cherokee Phoenix The ''Cherokee Phoenix'' ( chr, ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎴᎯᏌᏅᎯ, translit=Tsalagi Tsulehisanvhi) was the first newspaper published by Native Americans in the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United Stat ...
'' (, ), the first newspaper published by
Native Americans in the United States Native Americans, also known as American Indians, First Americans, Indigenous Americans and #Terminology differences, other terms, are the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, indigenous peoples of the United States, sometimes including Hawaii a ...
and the first published in a Native American language.


Classification

Cherokee is an
Iroquoian language The Iroquoian languages are a language family of indigenous peoples of North America The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the inhabitants of the Americas before the arrival of the European colonization of the Americas, European settlers ...
, and the only Southern Iroquoian language spoken today. Linguists believe that the Cherokee people migrated to the southeast from the
Great Lakes File:Location of the Great Lakes in North America.jpg, upright=1.3, Location in North America The Great Lakes, also called the Great Lakes of North America or the Laurentian Great Lakes, are a series of large interconnected Fresh water, fresh ...

Great Lakes
region about three thousand years ago, bringing with them their language. Despite the three-thousand-year geographic separation, the Cherokee language today still shows some similarities to the languages spoken around the Great Lakes, such as
MohawkMohawk may refer to: Related to Native Americans *Mohawk people, an indigenous people of North America (Canada and New York) *Mohawk language, the language spoken by the Mohawk people *Mohawk hairstyle, from a hairstyle once thought to have been tr ...
, Onondaga,
Seneca Seneca may refer to: People and language *Seneca (name), a list of people with either the given name or surname *Seneca the Elder, a Roman rhetorician, writer and father of the stoic philosopher Seneca the Younger *Seneca the Younger, a Roman Stoi ...
, and Tuscarora. Some researchers (such as Thomas Whyte) have suggested the homeland of the proto-Iroquoian language resides in Appalachia. Whyte contends, based on linguistic and molecular studies, that proto-Iroquoian speakers participated in cultural and economic exchanges along the north–south axis of the Appalachian Mountains. The divergence of Southern Iroquoian (which Cherokee is the only known branch of) from the Northern Iroquoian languages occurred approximately 4,000-3,000 years ago as Late Archaic proto-Iroquoian speaking peoples became more sedentary with the advent of horticulture, advancement of lithic technologies and the emergence of social complexity in the Eastern Woodlands. In the subsequent millennia, the Northern Iroquoian and Southern Iroquoian would be separated by various Algonquin and Siouan speaking peoples as linguistic, religious, social and technological practices from the Algonquin to the north and east and the Siouans to the west from the Ohio Valley would come to be practiced by peoples in the Chesapeake region, as well as parts of the Carolinas.


History


Literacy

into the Cherokee language, 1856 Before the development of the
Cherokee syllabary The Cherokee syllabary is a syllabary In the linguistic Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The tradi ...

Cherokee syllabary
in the 1820s, Cherokee was an oral language only. The Cherokee syllabary is a
syllabary In the linguistic Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis includ ...
invented by
Sequoyah Sequoyah (ᏍᏏᏉᏯ ''Ssiquoya'', as he signed his name, or ᏎᏉᏯ ''Se-quo-ya'', as is often spelled in Cherokee The Cherokee (; chr, ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯᎢ, translit=Aniyvwiyaʔi, or chr, ᏣᎳᎩ, links=no, translit=Tsalagi) are on ...

Sequoyah
to write the Cherokee language in the late 1810s and early 1820s. His creation of the syllabary is particularly noteworthy in that he could not previously read any script. Sequoyah had some contact with English literacy and the Roman alphabet through his proximity to Fort Loundon, where he engaged in trade with Europeans. He was exposed to English literacy through his white father. His limited understanding of the
Roman alphabet The Latin alphabet or Roman alphabet is the collection of letters originally used by the ancient Romans In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historians in developing history as an academic discipline, a ...

Roman alphabet
, including the ability to recognize the letters of his name, may have aided him in the creation of the Cherokee syllabary. When developing the written language, Sequoyah first experimented with
logogram In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language by means of a writing system. Written language is an invention in that it must be taught to children, who will pick up spoken language or sign la ...
s, but his system later developed into a syllabary. In his system, each symbol represents a
syllable A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. It is typically made up of a syllable nucleus (most often a vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels a ...

syllable
rather than a single
phoneme In phonology and linguistics, a phoneme is a unit of sound that distinguishes one word from another in a particular language. For example, in most List of dialects of English, dialects of English, with the notable exception of the West Midlan ...
; the 85 (originally 86) characters in the Cherokee syllabary provide a suitable method to write Cherokee. Some typeface syllables do resemble the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the ...

Latin
,
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of 2018; Athens is ...

Greek
and even the
Cyrillic script , bg, кирилица , mk, кирилица , russian: кириллица , sr, ћирилица, uk, кирилиця , fam1 = Egyptian hieroglyphs Egyptian hieroglyphs () were the formal writing system used in Ancient Egypt, used ...
s' letters, but the sounds are completely different (for example, the sound /a/ is written with a letter that resembles Latin D). Around 1809, Sequoyah began work to create a system of writing for the Cherokee language. At first he sought to create a character for each word in the language. He spent a year on this effort, leaving his fields unplanted, so that his friends and neighbors thought he had lost his mind. His wife is said to have burned his initial work, believing it to be
witchcraft Witchcraft is the practice of what the practitioner ("witch") believes to be Magic (supernatural), magical skills and abilities such as using spell (paranormal), spells, incantations, and magical rituals. ''Witchcraft'' is a broad term that var ...

witchcraft
. He finally realized that this approach was impractical because it would require too many pictures to be remembered. He then tried making a symbol for every idea, but this also caused too many problems to be practical.Davis, John B. ''Chronicles of Oklahoma.'' Vol. 8, Number 2. "The Life and Work of Sequoyah." June 1930. Retrieved April 4, 201

Sequoyah did not succeed until he gave up trying to represent entire words and developed a written symbol for each syllable in the language. After approximately a month, he had a system of 86 Grapheme, characters. "In their present form, ypeface syllabary not the original handwritten Syllabarymany of the syllabary characters resemble Roman,
Cyrillic , bg, кирилица , mk, кирилица , russian: кириллица , sr, ћирилица, uk, кирилиця , fam1 = Egyptian hieroglyphs , fam2 = Proto-Sinaitic , fam3 = Phoenician alphabet, Phoenician , ...
or
Greek letters The Greek alphabet has been used to write the Greek language Greek (modern , romanized: ''Elliniká'', Ancient Greek, ancient , ''Hellēnikḗ'') is an independent branch of the Indo-European languages, Indo-European family of languages, nat ...
or
Arabic numerals Arabic numerals are the ten digits: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. The term often implies a decimal number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and ...

Arabic numerals
," says Janine Scancarelli, a scholar of Cherokee writing, "but there is no apparent relationship between their sounds in other languages and in Cherokee." Unable to find adults willing to learn the syllabary, he taught it to his daughter, ''Ayokeh'' (also spelled Ayoka). Langguth says she was only six years old at the time.Langguth, p. 71 He traveled to the Indian Reserves in the Arkansaw Territory where some Cherokee had settled. When he tried to convince the local leaders of the syllabary's usefulness, they doubted him, believing that the symbols were merely ''
ad hoc Ad hoc is a Latin phrase Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign ...

ad hoc
'' reminders. Sequoyah asked each to say a word, which he wrote down, and then called his daughter in to read the words back. This demonstration convinced the leaders to let him teach the syllabary to a few more people. This took several months, during which it was rumored that he might be using the students for sorcery. After completing the lessons, Sequoyah wrote a dictated letter to each student, and read a dictated response. This test convinced the western Cherokee that he had created a practical writing system. When Sequoyah returned east, he brought a sealed envelope containing a written speech from one of the Arkansas Cherokee leaders. By reading this speech, he convinced the eastern Cherokee also to learn the system, after which it spread rapidly. In 1825 the Cherokee Nation officially adopted the writing system. From 1828 to 1834, American missionaries assisted the Cherokee in using Sequoyah's original syllabary to develop type face Syllabary characters and print the ''
Cherokee Phoenix The ''Cherokee Phoenix'' ( chr, ᏣᎳᎩ ᏧᎴᎯᏌᏅᎯ, translit=Tsalagi Tsulehisanvhi) was the first newspaper published by Native Americans in the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United Stat ...
'', the first
newspaper A newspaper is a periodical Periodical literature (also called a periodical publication or simply a periodical) is a category of Serial (publishing), serial published, publications that appear in a new edition on a regular schedule. The most ...

newspaper
of the Cherokee Nation, with text in both Cherokee and English."Sequoyah"
''New Georgia Encyclopedia'', accessed January 3, 2009
In 1826, the Cherokee National Council commissioned George Lowrey and David Brown to translate and print eight copies of the laws of the Cherokee Nation in the new Cherokee language typeface using Sequoyah's system, but not his original self-created handwritten syllable glyphs. Once
Albert Gallatin Abraham Alfonse Albert Gallatin, born de Gallatin (January 29, 1761 – August 12, 1849) was an American politician, diplomat, ethnologist and linguist. Biographer Nicholas Dungan states he was "America's Swiss Founding Father." He is known for ...

Albert Gallatin
saw a copy of Sequoyah's syllabary, he found the syllabary superior to the English alphabet. Even though the Cherokee student learns 86 syllables instead of 26 letters, he can read immediately. The student could accomplish in a few weeks what students of English writing could learn in two years. In 1824, the General Council of the Eastern Cherokee awarded Sequoyah a large silver medal in honor of the syllabary. According to Davis, one side of the medal bore his image surrounded by the inscription in English, "Presented to George Gist by the General Council of the Cherokee for his ingenuity in the invention of the Cherokee Alphabet." The reverse side showed two long-stemmed pipes and the same inscription written in Cherokee. Supposedly, Sequoyah wore the medal throughout the rest of his life and it was buried with him. By 1825, the Bible and numerous religious hymns and pamphlets, educational materials, legal documents and books were translated into the Cherokee language. Thousands of Cherokee became syllabic and the syllabicy rate for Cherokee in the original Syllabary as well as the typefaced Syllabary, was higher in the Cherokee Nation, than that of literacy of whites in the
English alphabet The modern English alphabet is a Latin-script alphabet, Latin alphabet consisting of 26 Letter (alphabet), letters, each having an Letter case, upper- and lower-case form. It originated around the 7th century from Latin script. Since then, letters ...
in the United States. Though use of the Cherokee syllabary declined after many of the Cherokee were forcibly removed to
Indian Territory The Indian Territory and the Indian Territories are terms that generally describe an evolving land area set aside by the Federal government of the United States, United States Government for the relocation of Native Americans in the United State ...
, present day
Oklahoma Oklahoma () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...
, it has survived in private correspondence, renderings of the Bible, and descriptions of Indian medicine and now can be found in books and on the internet among other places.


Geographic distribution

The language remains concentrated in some Oklahoma communities and communities like Big Cove and Snowbird in North Carolina.


Dialects

At the time of European contact, there were three major dialects of Cherokee: Lower, Middle, and Overhill. The Lower dialect, formerly spoken on the South Carolina-Georgia border, has been extinct since about 1900. Of the remaining two dialects, the Middle dialect (Kituwah) is spoken by the Eastern band on the
Qualla Boundary , North Carolina North Carolina () is a U.S. state, state in the Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States. North Carolina is the List of U.S. states and territories by area, 28th largest and List of states and t ...
, and retains ~200 speakers. The Overhill, or Western, dialect is spoken in eastern Oklahoma and by the Snowbird Community in North Carolina by ~1,300 people. The Western dialect is most widely used and is considered the main dialect of the language. Both dialects have had English influence, with the Overhill, or Western dialect showing some Spanish influence as well. The now extinct Lower dialect spoken by the inhabitants of the Lower Towns in the vicinity of the South Carolina–Georgia border had ''r'' as the liquid consonant in its inventory, while both the contemporary Kituhwa dialect spoken in North Carolina and the Overhill dialect contain ''l''. Only Oklahoma Cherokee developed tone. Both the Lower dialect and the Kituhwa dialect have a "ts" sound in place of the "tl" sound of the Overhill dialect. For instance, the word for 'it is cold (outside)' is ᎤᏴᏝ (ujʌ̃tˤɑ or jʌ̃tl̥á in the Overhill dialect, but ᎤᏴᏣ (ujʌ̃t͡sɑ) in the Kituhwa dialect.


Language drift

There are two main dialects of Cherokee spoken by modern speakers. The Giduwa (or Kituwah) dialect (Eastern Band) and the Otali dialect (also called the Overhill dialect) spoken in Oklahoma. The Otali dialect has drifted significantly from Sequoyah's syllabary in the past 150 years, and many contracted and borrowed words have been adopted into the language. These noun and verb roots in Cherokee, however, can still be mapped to Sequoyah's syllabary. There are more than 85 syllables in use by modern Cherokee speakers. Modern Cherokee speakers who speak Otali employ 122 distinct syllables in Oklahoma.


Status and preservation efforts

In 2019, the Tri-Council of Cherokee tribes declared a state of emergency for the language due to the threat of it going extinct, calling for the enhancement of revitalization programs. The language retains about 1,500 to 2,100 Cherokee speakers, but an average of 8 fluent speakers die each month, and only a handful of people under 40 years of age are fluent as of 2019. In 1986, the literacy rate for first language speakers was 15–20% who could read and 5% who could write, according to the 1986
Cherokee Heritage Center The Cherokee Heritage Center is a non-profit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a collective, public or socia ...
. A 2005 survey determined that the Eastern band had 460 fluent speakers. Ten years later, the number was believed to be 200. Cherokee is "definitely endangered" in Oklahoma and "severely endangered" in North Carolina according to
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a specialised agency United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous organ ...

UNESCO
. Cherokee has been the co-
official language An official language, also called state language, is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have ...

official language
of the
Cherokee Nation The Cherokee Nation (Cherokee language, Cherokee: ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎠᏰᎵ, ''Tsalagihi Ayeli'' or ᏣᎳᎩᏰᎵ "Tsalagiyehli"), also known as the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, is the largest of three Cherokee List of federally recognized tribes ...
alongside English since a 1991 legislation officially proclaimed this under the Act Relating to the Tribal Policy for the Promotion and Preservation of Cherokee Language, History, and Culture. Cherokee is also recognized as the official language of the
United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma ( or , abbreviated United Keetoowah Band or UKB) is a federally recognized tribe of Cherokee The Cherokee (; chr, ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯᎢ, translit=Aniyvwiyaʔi, or chr, ᏣᎳᎩ, links= ...
. As Cherokee is official, the entire constitution of the United Keetoowah Band is available in both English and Cherokee. As an official language, any tribal member may communicate with the tribal government in Cherokee or English, English translation services are provided for Cherokee speakers, and both Cherokee and English are used when the tribe provides services, resources, and information to tribal members or when communicating with the tribal council. The 1991 legislation allows the political branch of the nation to maintain Cherokee as a living language. Because they are within the Cherokee Nation tribal jurisdiction area, hospitals and health centers such as the Three Rivers Health Center in Muscogee, Oklahoma provide Cherokee language translation services.


Education

In 2008 The
Cherokee Nation The Cherokee Nation (Cherokee language, Cherokee: ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎠᏰᎵ, ''Tsalagihi Ayeli'' or ᏣᎳᎩᏰᎵ "Tsalagiyehli"), also known as the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, is the largest of three Cherokee List of federally recognized tribes ...
instigated a 10-year language preservation plan that involved growing new fluent speakers of the Cherokee language from childhood on up through school immersion programs, as well as a collaborative community effort to continue to use the language at home. This plan was part of an ambitious goal that in 50 years, 80 percent or more of the Cherokee people will be fluent in the language. The
Cherokee Preservation Foundation Cherokee Preservation Foundation is an independent nonprofit foundation established in 2000 as part of the Tribal-State Compact amendment between the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) and the State of North Carolina North Carolina () ...
has invested $4.5 million into opening schools, training teachers, and developing curricula for language education, as well as initiating community gatherings where the language can be actively used. They have accomplished: "Curriculum development, teaching materials and teacher training for a total immersion program for children, beginning when they are preschoolers, that enables them to learn Cherokee as their first language. The participating children and their parents learn to speak and read together. The Tribe operates the Kituwah Academy". Formed in 2006, the Kituwah Preservation & Education Program (KPEP) on the
Qualla Boundary , North Carolina North Carolina () is a U.S. state, state in the Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States. North Carolina is the List of U.S. states and territories by area, 28th largest and List of states and t ...
focuses on language immersion programs for children from birth to
fifth gradeFifth grade (called Grade 5 in some regions) is a year of education in many nations, and some other regions call it Year 5. In the United States, the fifth grade is the fifth and last school year of elementary school in most schools. Students are usu ...
, developing cultural resources for the general public and community language programs to foster the Cherokee language among adults.Kituwah Preservation & Education Program Powerpoint, by Renissa Walker (2012)'. 2012. Print. There is also a Cherokee language immersion school in Tahlequah, Oklahoma that educates students from pre-school through eighth grade. A second campus was added in November 2021, when the school purchased Greasy School in
Greasy, Oklahoma Greasy is a census-designated place (CDP) in Adair County, Oklahoma, Adair County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 372 at the 2010 United States Census, 2010 census. Geography Greasy is located at (35.678115, -94.721152). According t ...
, located in southern Adair County ten miles south of Stilwell. Situated in largest area of Cherokee speakers in the world, the opportunity for that campus is for students to spend the day in an immersion school and then return to a Cherokee-speaking home. Several universities offer Cherokee as a second language, including the
University of Oklahoma , mottoeng = For the benefit of the Citizen and the State , type = Public university, Public Flagship university, flagship research university , established = , academic_affiliations = , endowment = $1.736 billion (2018) , president = Jose ...
,
Northeastern State University Northeastern State University (NSU) is a public university with its main campus in Tahlequah, Oklahoma Tahlequah ( ; ''Cherokee'': ᏓᎵᏆ, ''da-tle-qua'') is a city in Cherokee County, Oklahoma located at the foothills of the Ozark Mountai ...
, and
Western Carolina University Western Carolina University (WCU) is a public university in Cullowhee, North Carolina. It is part of the University of North Carolina system. The fifth oldest institution of the sixteen four-year universities in the UNC system, WCU was founded to ...
. Western Carolina University (WCU) has partnered with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) to promote and restore the language through the school's Cherokee Studies program, which offers classes in and about the language and culture of the Cherokee Indians. WCU and the EBCI have initiated a ten-year language revitalization plan consisting of: (1) a continuation of the improvement and expansion of the EBCI Atse Kituwah Cherokee Language Immersion School, (2) continued development of Cherokee language learning resources, and (3) building of Western Carolina University programs to offer a more comprehensive language training curriculum.


Phonology

Recording of a Cherokee language stomp dance ceremony in Oklahoma The family of
Iroquoian languages The Iroquoian languages are a language family of indigenous peoples of North America The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the inhabitants of the Americas before the arrival of the European colonization of the Americas, European settlers ...

Iroquoian languages
has a unique phonological inventory. Unlike most languages, the
Cherokee The Cherokee (; chr, ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯᎢ, translit=Aniyvwiyaʔi, or chr, ᏣᎳᎩ, links=no, translit=Tsalagi) are one of the indigenous people of the Southeastern Woodlands of the United States. Prior to the 18th century, they were concentr ...
inventory of consonants lacks the labial sounds ''p'', ''b'', ''f'', and ''v''. Cherokee does, however, have one
labial consonant Labial consonants are consonants in which one or both lip Lips are a visible body part at the mouth of many animals, including humans. Lips are soft, movable, and serve as the opening for food intake and in the articulation of sound and spee ...
''m'', but it is rare, appearing in no more than ten native words. In fact, the Lower dialect does not produce ''m'' at all. Instead, it uses ''w''. In the case of ''p'', ''qw'' is often substituted, as in the name of the Cherokee Wikipedia, ''Wigiqwediya''. Some words may contain sounds not reflected in the given phonology: for instance, the modern Oklahoma use of the loanword "automobile", with the and sounds of English.


Consonants

As with many Iroquoian languages, Cherokee's phonemic inventory is small. The consonants for North Carolina Cherokee are given in the table below. The consonants of all Iroquoian languages pattern so that they may be grouped as (oral) obstruents, sibilants, laryngeals, and resonants ( Lounsbury 1978:337). Notes: * The stops /t, k, kʷ/ and affricates /t͡s, t͡ɬ/ are voiced in the beginning of syllables and between vowels: , g, gʷ, d͡z, d͡ɮ Before /h/, they surface as aspirated stops: ʰ, kʰ, kʷʰ, t͡sʰ except /t͡ɬ/ which surfaces as a plain voiceless affricate ͡ɬor fricative in some Oklahoma Cherokee speakers.Uchihara, 2016, p. 41. These aspirated allophones are felt as separate phonemes by native speakers and are often reflected as such in the orthographies (in romanization or syllabary). * /t͡s/ is palatalized as ͡ɕ ⁓ t͡ʃ(voiced allophones: ͡ʑ ⁓ d͡ʒ in the Oklahoma dialects, but ͡sbefore /h/ + obstruent after vowel deletion: ''jⱥ-hdlv́vga'' > ''tsdlv́vga'' "you are sick". * /t͡ɬ/ has merged with /t͡s/ in most North Carolina dialects. * (the voiced allophone of /k/) can also be lenified to and ʷ(the voiced allophone of /kʷ/) to ʷ ⁓ w * The sonorants /n, l, j, w/ are devoiced when preceding or following /h/, with varying degrees of allophony: ̥, l̥⁓ɬ, j̥⁓ç, w̥⁓ʍ⁓ɸUchihara, 2016, p. 42. * /m/ is the only true labial. It occurs only in a dozen native words and is not reconstructed for Proto-Iroquoian. * /s/ is realized as or even in North Carolina dialects. After a short vowel, /s/ is always preceded by a faint /h/, generally not spelled in the romanized orthographies. * /ʔ/ and /h/, including the pre-aspiration /h/ mentioned above, participate in complex rules of laryngeal and tonal alternations, often surfacing as various tones instead. Ex: ''h-vhd-a'' > ''hvhda'' "use it!" but ''g-vhd-íha'' > ''gvv̀díha'' "I am using it" with a lowfall tone; ''wi-hi-gaht-i'' > ''hwikti'' "you're heading there" but ''wi-ji-gaht-i'' > ''wijigáati'' "I am heading there" with a falling tone.


Orthography

There are two main competing orthographies, depending on how plain and aspirated stops (including affricates) are represented: * In the "''d/t'' system" orthography, plain stops are represented by English voiced stops (''d, g, gw, j, dl'') and aspirated stops by English voiceless stops (''t, k, kw, c, tl''). This orthography is favored by native speakers. * In the "''t/th'' system" orthography, plain stops are represented by voiceless stops instead, and aspirated stops by sequences of voiceless stops + ''h'' (''th, kh, khw/kwh, ch, thl/tlh''). This orthography is favored by linguists. Another orthography, used in Holmes (1977), doesn't distinguish plain stops from aspirated stops for /t͡sa/ and /kw/ and uses ''ts'' and ''qu'' for both modes. Spellings working from the syllabary rather than from the sounds often behave similarly, /t͡s/ and /kʷ/ being the only two stop series not having separate letters for plain and aspirated before any vowel in Sequoyah script. Ex: ᏌᏊ ''saquu'' aàgʷu ᏆᎾ ''quana'' ʷʰana


Vowels

There are six short vowels and six long vowels in the Cherokee inventory. As with all Iroquoian languages, this includes a nasalized vowel ( Lounsbury 1978:337). In the case of Cherokee, the nasalized vowel is a mid central vowel usually represented as ''v'' and is pronounced , that is as a
schwa In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis inc ...
vowel like the unstressed "a" in the English word "comma" plus the nasalization. It is similar to the nasalized vowel in the
French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe, consistin ...

French
word ''un'' which means "one". /u/ is weakly rounded and often realized as ⁓ ʉ Word-final vowels are short and nasalized, and receive an automatic high or high-falling tone: ''wado'' adṍ"thank you".Montgomery-Anderson, 2008, p. 45. They are often dropped in casual speech: ''gaáda'' aátʰ"dirt". When deletion happens, trailing /ʔ/ and /h/ are also deleted and any resulting long vowel is further shortened: ''uùgoohvv́ʔi'' > ''uùgoohv́'' "he saw it". Short vowels are devoiced before /h/: ''digadóhdi'' igadó̥hdĩ́ But due to the phonological rules of vowel deletion, laryngeal metathesis and laryngeal alternation (see below), this environment is relatively rare. Sequences of two non-identical vowels are disallowed and the vowel clash must be resolved. There are four strategies depending on the phonological and morphological environments: # the first vowel is kept: ''uù-aduulíha'' > ''uùduulíha'' "he wants", # the second vowel is kept: ''hi-ééga'' > ''hééga'' "you're going", # an epenthetic consonant is inserted: ''jii-uudalééʔa'' > ''jiiyuudalééʔa'', # they merge in a different vowel or tone quality. These make the identification of each individual morphemes often a difficult task:


Tone

Cherokee distinguishes six pitch patterns or tones, using four pitch levels. Two tones are level (low, high) and appear on short or long vowels. The other four are contour tones (rising, falling, lowfall, highrise) and appear on long vowels only. There is no academic consensus on the notation of tone and length. Below are the main conventions, along with the standardized
IPA IPA commonly refers to: * India pale ale, a style of beer * International Phonetic Alphabet The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is an alphabetic system of phonetic notation based primarily on the Latin script Latin script, also ...
notation. * The low tone is the default, unmarked tone. * The high tone is the marked tone. Some sources of high tone apply to the
mora Mora may refer to: Places * Doctor Mora, city in the Mexican state of Guanajuato * Mora (Cordillera), Bolivia * Mora, Cameroon, a town * Mora (canton), Costa Rica * Mora, Cyprus, a village * Mora, Maharashtra, India, a port near Mumbai * Mora, Port ...
, others to the syllable. Complex morphophonological rules govern whether it can spread one mora to the left, to the right or at all. It has both lexical and morphological functions. * The rising and falling tones are secondary tones, i.e. combinations of low and high tones, deriving from moraic high tones and from high tone spread. * The lowfall tone mainly derives from glottal stop deletion after a long vowel, but also has important morphological functions ( pronominal lowering, , laryngeal alternation). * The superhigh tone, also called "highfall" by Montgomery-Anderson, has a distinctive morphosyntactical function, primarily appearing on adjectives, nouns derived from verbs, and on subordinate verbs. It is mobile and falls on the rightmost long vowel. If the final short vowel is dropped and the superhigh tone becomes in word-final position, it is shortened and pronounced like a slightly higher final tone (notated as ''a̋'' in most orthographies). There can only be one superhigh tone per word, constraint not shared by the other tones. For these reasons, this contour exhibits some accentual properties and has been referred to as an "
accentAccent may refer to: Speech and language * Accent (sociolinguistics), way of pronunciation particular to a speaker or group of speakers * Accent (phonetics), prominence given to a particular syllable in a word, or a word in a phrase ** Pitch accen ...
" (or stress) in the literature. While the tonal system is undergoing a gradual simplification in many areas, it remains important in meaning and is still held strongly by many, especially older, speakers. The syllabary displays neither tone nor vowel length, but as stated earlier regarding the paucity of minimal pairs, real cases of ambiguity are rare. The same goes for transliterated Cherokee (''osiyo'' for osíyo ''dohitsu'' for ʰoòhiı̋juetc.), which is rarely written with any tone markers, except in dictionaries. Native speakers can tell the difference between written words based solely on context.


Phonological and morphophonological processes


Vowel deletion


Laryngeal alternation


H-metathesis


Pronominal lowering


Tonicity


Grammar

Cherokee, like many Native American languages, is
polysynthetic In morphological typology, linguistic typology, polysynthetic languages are highly synthetic languages, i.e. languages in which word (linguistics), words are composed of many morphemes (word parts that have independent meaning but may or may not be ...
, meaning that many
morphemes A morpheme is the smallest meaningful lexical itemIn lexicography, a lexical item (or lexical unit / LU, lexical entry) is a single word, a part of a word, or a chain of words ( catena) that forms the basic elements of a language's lexicon A l ...
may be linked together to form a single word, which may be of great length. Cherokee
verbs A verb () is a word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequence of phonemes that can be uttered in isolation with semantic, objective or pragmatics, practical meaning (linguistics), meaning. In many la ...
, the most important word type, must contain as a minimum a
pronominal In linguistics and grammar, a pronoun (list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ) is a word that substitutes for a noun or noun phrase. Pronouns have traditionally been regarded as one of the part of speech, parts of speech, but some modern th ...

pronominal
prefix A prefix is an affix which is placed before the Word stem, stem of a word. Adding it to the beginning of one word changes it into another word. For example, when the prefix ''un-'' is added to the word ''happy'', it creates the word ''unhappy'' ...
, a verb root, an
aspect Aspect or Aspects may refer to: Entertainment * ''Aspect magazine ASPECT Volume 9: Performance ''ASPECT'' was a biannual DVD The DVD (common abbreviation for Digital Video Disc or Digital Versatile Disc) is a digital optical disc data stor ...
suffix, and a modal suffix. For example, the verb form ge:ga, "I am going," has each of these elements:
The pronominal prefix is ''g-'', which indicates first person singular. The verb root is ''-e'', "to go." The aspect suffix that this verb employs for the present-tense stem is ''-g-''. The present-tense modal suffix for regular verbs in Cherokee is ''-a''. Cherokee has 17 verb tenses and 10 persons. The following is a conjugation in the present tense of the verb to go.Robinson, "Conjugation" p. 60 Please note that there is no distinction between dual and plural in the 3rd person.
The translation uses the present progressive ("at this time I am going"). Cherokee differentiates between progressive ("I am going") and habitual ("I go") more than English does.
The forms , , , , represent "I often/usually go", "you often/usually go", and "she/he/it often/usually goes", respectively. Verbs can also have prepronominal prefixes, reflexive prefixes, and derivative suffixes. Given all possible combinations of affixes, each regular verb can have 21,262 inflected forms. Cherokee does not make gender distinctions. For example, ' can mean either "she is speaking" or "he is speaking."


Pronouns and pronominal prefixes

Like many Native American languages, Cherokee has many pronominal prefixes that can index both subject and object. Pronominal prefixes always appear on verbs and can also appear on adjectives and nouns. There are two separate words which function as pronouns: ''aya'' "I, me" and ''nihi'' "you".


Shape classifiers in verbs

Some Cherokee verbs require special classifiers which denote a physical property of the direct object. Only around 20 common verbs require one of these classifiers (such as the equivalents of "pick up", "put down", "remove", "wash", "hide", "eat", "drag", "have", "hold", "put in water", "put in fire", "hang up", "be placed", "pull along"). The classifiers can be grouped into five categories: * Live * Flexible (most common) * Long (narrow, not flexible) * Indefinite (solid, heavy relative to size), also used as default category * Liquid (or container of) Example: There have been reports that the youngest speakers of Cherokee are using only the indefinite forms, suggesting a decline in usage or full acquisition of the system of shape classification. Cherokee is the only Iroquoian language with this type of classificatory verb system, leading linguists to reanalyze it as a potential remnant of a noun incorporation system in Proto-Iroquoian. However, given the non-productive nature of noun incorporation in Cherokee, other linguists have suggested that classificatory verbs are the product of historical contact between Cherokee and non-Iroquoian languages, and instead that the noun incorporation system in Northern Iroquoian languages developed later.


Word order

Simple declarative sentences usually have a subject-object-verb word order. Negative sentences have a different word order. Adjectives come before nouns, as in English. Demonstratives, such as ' ("that") or ' ("this"), come at the beginning of noun phrases. Relative clauses follow noun phrases.Feeling, "Dictionary" p. 353 Adverbs precede the verbs that they are modifying. For example, "she's speaking loudly" is ' (literally, "loud she's-speaking"). A Cherokee sentence may not have a verb as when two noun phrases form a sentence. In such a case, word order is flexible. For example, ' ("that man is my father"). A noun phrase might be followed by an adjective, such as in ' ("my father is big").


Orthography

Cherokee is written in an 85-character
syllabary In the linguistic Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis includ ...
invented by
Sequoyah Sequoyah (ᏍᏏᏉᏯ ''Ssiquoya'', as he signed his name, or ᏎᏉᏯ ''Se-quo-ya'', as is often spelled in Cherokee The Cherokee (; chr, ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯᎢ, translit=Aniyvwiyaʔi, or chr, ᏣᎳᎩ, links=no, translit=Tsalagi) are on ...

Sequoyah
(also known as Guest or George Gist). Many of the letters resemble the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the ...

Latin
letters they derive from, but have completely unrelated sound values; Sequoyah had seen English,
Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites, Judeans and their ancestors. It is the o ...
, and
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
writing but did not know how to read them. Two other scripts used to write Cherokee are a simple Latin
transliteration Transliteration is a type of conversion of a text from one script Script may refer to: Writing systems * Script, a distinctive writing system, based on a repertoire of specific elements or symbols, or that repertoire * Script (styles of ha ...

transliteration
and a more precise system with
diacritical marks A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph added to a letter (alphabet), letter or basic glyph. The term derives from the Ancient Greek (, "distinguishing"), from (, "to distinguish"). The wor ...
.


Description

Each of the characters represents one syllable, as in the
Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat = Imperial Seal of J ...

Japanese
''
kana The term may refer to a number of syllabaries In the linguistic Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. ...

kana
'' and the
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the Three-age syst ...
Greek
Linear B Linear B is a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, the earliest attested form of Greek. The script predates the Greek alphabet The Greek alphabet has been used to write the Greek language since the late ninth or ...
writing systems. The first six characters represent isolated
vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two principal classes of speech sounds, the other being the consonant. Vowels vary in quality, in loudness and also in Vowel ...
syllables. Characters for combined consonant and vowel syllables then follow. It is recited from left to right, top to bottom. The charts below show the syllabary as arranged by
Samuel Worcester Samuel Austin Worcester (January 19, 1798 – April 20, 1859), was an American missionary to the Cherokee, translator of the Bible, printer, and defender of the Cherokee sovereignty. He collaborated with Elias Boudinot (Cherokee), Elias Boudino ...
along with his commonly used transliterations. He played a key role in the development of
Cherokee printing The Cherokee syllabary is a syllabary invented by Sequoyah in the late 1810s and early 1820s to write the Cherokee language. His creation of the syllabary is particularly noteworthy as he was illiterate until the creation of his syllabary. He fi ...
from 1828 until his death in 1859. Notes: # In the chart, ‘v’ represents a
nasal vowel A nasal vowel is a vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two principal classes of speech sounds, the other being the consonant. Vowels vary in quality, ...
, . # The character Ꮩ ''do'' is shown upside-down in some fonts. The transliteration working from the syllabary uses conventional consonants like ''qu, ts,...'', and may differ from the ones used in the phonological orthographies (first column in the below chart, in the "d/t system"). The phonetic values of these characters do not equate directly to those represented by the letters of the Latin script. Some characters represent two distinct phonetic values (actually heard as different syllables), while others often represent different forms of the same syllable. Not all
phonemic In phonology Phonology is a branch of linguistics that studies how languages or dialects systematically organize their sounds (or constituent parts of signs, in sign languages). The term also refers to the sound or sign system of any partic ...
distinctions of the spoken language are represented: *Aspirated consonants are generally not distinguished from their plain counterpart. For example, while + vowel syllables are mostly differentiated from + vowel by use of different
glyph The term glyph is used in typography File:metal movable type.jpg, 225px, Movable type being assembled on a composing stick using pieces that are stored in the type case shown below it Typography is the art and technique of typesetting, arr ...
s, syllables beginning with are all conflated with those beginning with . * Long vowels are not distinguished from short vowels. However, in more recent technical literature, length of vowels can actually be indicated using a colon, and other disambiguation methods for consonants (somewhat like the
Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_coat = Imperial Seal of J ...

Japanese
dakuten The , colloquially , is a diacritic A diacritic (also diacritical mark, diacritical point, diacritical sign, or accent) is a glyph added to a letter Letter, letters, or literature may refer to: Characters typeface * Letter (alphabet) ...
) have been suggested. * Tones are not marked. * Syllables ending in vowels, ''h,'' or glottal stop are undifferentiated. For example, the single symbol Ꮡ is used to represent both ''suú'' as in ''suúdáli'', meaning "six" (ᏑᏓᎵ), and ''súh'' as in ''súhdi,'' meaning "fishhook" (ᏑᏗ). * There is no regular rule for representing
consonant clusters In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include p ...
. When consonants other than ''s, h,'' or glottal stop arise in clusters with other consonants, a vowel must be inserted, chosen either arbitrarily or for etymological reasons (reflecting an underlying etymological vowel, see vowel deletion for instance). For example, ᏧᎾᏍᏗ (tsu-na-s-di) represents the word '' juunsdi̋'', meaning "small (pl.), babies". The consonant cluster ''ns'' is broken down by insertion of the vowel ''a'', and is spelled as ᎾᏍ . The vowel is etymological as ''juunsdi̋'' is composed of the morphemes ''di-uunii-asdii̋ʔi'' (DIST-3B.pl-small), where ''a'' is part of the root. The vowel is included in the transliteration, but is not pronounced. As with some other underspecified writing systems (like Arabic alphabet, Arabic), adult speakers can distinguish words by context.


Transliteration issues

Transliteration software that operates without access to or reference to context greater than a single character can have difficulties with some Cherokee words. For example, words that contain adjacent pairs of single letter symbols, that (without special provisions) would be combined when doing the back conversion from Latin script to Cherokee. Here are a few examples: For these examples, the back conversion is likely to join ''s-a'' as ''sa'' or ''s-i'' as ''si''. Transliterations sometimes insert an apostrophe to prevent this, producing ''itsalis'anedi'' (cf. Man'yoshu). Other Cherokee words contain character pairs that entail overlapping transliteration sequences. Examples: * ᏀᎾ transliterates as ''nahna'', yet so does ᎾᎿ. The former is ''nah-na'', the latter is ''na-hna''. If the Latin script is parsed from left to right, longest match first, then without special provisions, the back conversion would be wrong for the latter. There are several similar examples involving these character combinations: ''naha nahe nahi naho nahu nahv''. A further problem encountered in transliterating Cherokee is that there are some pairs of different Cherokee words that transliterate to the same word in the Latin script. Here are some examples: * ᎠᏍᎡᏃ and ᎠᏎᏃ both transliterate to ''aseno'' * ᎨᏍᎥᎢ and ᎨᏒᎢ both transliterate to ''gesvi'' Without special provision, a round trip conversion changes ᎠᏍᎡᏃ to ᎠᏎᏃ and changes ᎨᏍᎥᎢ to ᎨᏒᎢ.This has been confirmed using the online transliteration service.


Unicode

Cherokee was added to the Unicode Standard in September, 1999 with the release of version 3.0.


Blocks

The main Unicode block for Cherokee is U+13A0–U+13FF. It contains the script's upper-case syllables as well as six lower-case syllables. The rest of the lower-case syllables are encoded at U+AB70–ABBF.


Fonts and digital platform support

A single Cherokee Unicode font, Plantagenet Cherokee, is supplied with macOS, version 10.3 (Panther) and later. Windows Vista also includes a Cherokee font. Several free Cherokee fonts are available including Digohweli, Donisiladv, and Noto fonts, Noto Sans Cherokee. Some pan-Unicode fonts, such as Code2000, Everson Mono, and GNU FreeFont, include Cherokee characters. A commercial font, Phoreus Cherokee, published by TypeCulture, includes multiple weights and styles. The Cherokee Nation Language Technology Program supports "innovative solutions for the Cherokee language on all digital platforms including smartphones, laptops, desktops, tablets and social networks."


Vocabulary


Numbers

Cherokee uses
Arabic numerals Arabic numerals are the ten digits: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. The term often implies a decimal number A number is a mathematical object used to counting, count, measurement, measure, and ...

Arabic numerals
(0–9). The Cherokee council voted not to adopt Sequoyah's numbering system. Sequoyah created individual symbols for 1–20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, and 100 as well as a symbol for three zeros for numbers in the thousands, and a symbol for six zeros for numbers in the millions. These last two symbols, representing ",000" and ",000,000", are made up of two separate symbols each. They have a symbol in common, which could be used as a zero in itself.


Days


Months


Colors


Word creation

The polysynthetic nature of the Cherokee language enables the language to develop new descriptive words in Cherokee to reflect or express new concepts. Some good examples are (', "he argues repeatedly and on purpose with a purpose") corresponding to "attorney" and (', "the final catcher" or "he catches them finally and conclusively") for "policeman."Holmes and Smith, p. vi Other words have been adopted from another language such as the English word ''gasoline'', which in Cherokee is ('). Other words were adopted from the languages of tribes who settled in Oklahoma in the early 1900s. One interesting and humorous example is the name of Nowata, Oklahoma deriving from ''nowata'', a Delaware word for "welcome" (more precisely the Delaware word is ''nuwita'' which can mean "welcome" or "friend" in the Delaware languages). The white settlers of the area used the name ''nowata'' for the township, and local Cherokee, being unaware that the word had its origins in the Delaware language, called the town (') which means "the water is all gone gone from here" – i.e. "no water."Holmes and Smith, p. vii Other examples of adopted words are (') for "coffee" and (') for "watch"; which led to (''utana watsi,'' "big watch") for ''clock''. Meaning expansion can be illustrated by the words for "warm" and "cold", which can be also extended to mean "south" and "north". Around the time of the American Civil War, they were further extended to US party labels, Democratic Party (United States), Democratic and Republican Party (United States), Republican, respectively.Holmes and Smith, p. 43


List of countries in Cherokee

Despite Cherokee being classified as either a vulnerable or endangered language, there are words for foreign concepts (e.g foreign animals, groups of people, foreign plants, etc) and names for foreign cities, towns and countries. There is a list of countries and dependencies in Cherokee availabl
here
The list includes both short and long names for every country and dependency in the world.


Samples

From the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:


Notes


References


Bibliography

* * . * * * * . * * *


Concerning the syllabary

* * * * * * . * . * . * .


Further reading

* Bruchac, Joseph. ''Aniyunwiya/Real Human Beings: An Anthology of Contemporary Cherokee Prose''. Greenfield Center, N.Y.: Greenfield Review Press, 1995. * * Cook, William Hinton (1979). ''A Grammar of North Carolina Cherokee''. Ph.D. diss., Yale University. OCLC]
7562394.
* King, Duane H. (1975). ''A Grammar and Dictionary of the Cherokee Language''. Ph.D. diss., University of Georgia
OCLC 6203735.
* Lounsbury, Floyd G. (1978). "Iroquoian Languages". in Bruce G. Trigger (ed.). ''Handbook of North American Indians'', Vol. 15: Northeast. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution. pp. 334–343. . * Munro, Pamela (ed.) (1996). ''Cherokee Papers from UCLA''. UCLA Occasional Papers in Linguistics, no. 16. . * Pulte, William, and Durbin Feeling. 2001. "Cherokee". In: Garry, Jane, and Carl Rubino (eds.) ''Facts About the World's Languages: An Encyclopedia of the World's Major Languages: Past and Present''. New York: H. W. Wilson. (Viewed at th
Rosetta Project
* Scancarelli, Janine (1987). ''Grammatical Relations and Verb Agreement in Cherokee''. Ph.D. diss., University of California, Los Angeles. . * Scancarelli, Janine. "Cherokee Writing." ''The World's Writing Systems''. 1998: Section 53.


External links


Cherokee-English Dictionary Online Database

Cherokee wordlist lookup

Cherokee Nation Dikaneisdi (Word List)

Cherokee numerals

Cherokee – Sequoyah transliteration system
nbsp;– online conversion tool
Unicode Chart

Cherokee Nation ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᏖᎩᎾᎶᏥ ᎤᎾᏙᏢᏅᎢ (Tsalagi Gawonihisdi teginalotsi unadotlvnvi / Cherokee Language Technology


Language archives, texts, audio, video


Cherokee Phoenix
bilingual newspaper in Cherokee and English
Cherokee Traditions digital archive
from
Western Carolina University Western Carolina University (WCU) is a public university in Cullowhee, North Carolina. It is part of the University of North Carolina system. The fifth oldest institution of the sixteen four-year universities in the UNC system, WCU was founded to ...

Cherokee New Testament Online
Online translation of the New Testament. Currently the largest Cherokee document on the internet. *
Cherokee Language Texts
from th
Boston Athenæum: Schoolcraft Collection of Books in Native American Languages. Digital Collection.


Language lessons and online instruction


Free online Cherokee classes
from the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma

(Beginning dialogues, audio, flashcards and grammar from culturev.com)
Cherokee Language downloadable flashcard decks
(Some based on culturev.com)
Mango Languages
has free lessons via their website or app
Online Cherokee language classes
from
Western Carolina University Western Carolina University (WCU) is a public university in Cullowhee, North Carolina. It is part of the University of North Carolina system. The fifth oldest institution of the sixteen four-year universities in the UNC system, WCU was founded to ...

Cherokee Language Program at Western Carolina University on Facebook
additional materials
CherokeeLessons.com
(Hosts Creative Commons licensed materials including a textbook covering grammar and many hours of challenge/response based audio lesson files).
Cherokee language YouTube videos for beginners, by tsasuyeda

Cherokee speakers
Cherokee Nation {{DEFAULTSORT:Cherokee Language Cherokee language, Iroquoian languages Indigenous languages of Oklahoma Sacred languages Subject–object–verb languages Indigenous languages of the North American Southeast Indigenous languages of the North American eastern woodlands Native American language revitalization Tonal languages Cherokee Nation (1794–1907) Languages of North Carolina Articles containing video clips