English - Cherokee Phrasebook - Words R Us Bilingual Phrasebooks #14
Publisher: Words R Us
Cherokee is a Southern Iroquoian language now spoken by around 22,500 people in North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. In 2005, the Cherokee Preservation Foundation funded a survey whose results indicated that only 460 fluent speakers were then living in Eastern Cherokee communities, with 72 percent of them over the age of 50 and elder speakers dying far more quickly than new speakers were emerging. By 2015 that number was down to 215.
The process of revitalizing the language is complex. While it has been spoken for hundreds of years, there is little in written form that can be used for instruction and few people are trained in teaching it.
At the time of the first contact with Europeans, the Cherokee occupied three distinct geographical regions. Three distinct dialects were spoken: Eastern, Middle and Western.
The Eastern or lower dialect is now extinct. Its chief peculiarity is a rolling "r", which takes the place of the "l" of the other dialects. The Cherokee speakers of the Eastern dialect occupied what is now South Carolina and made the first contact with the British. Due to the wars and conflicts of the 1800's, the few remaining speakers were absorbed into the other Cherokee groups further inland.
The Middle dialect (Kituwah) is spoken by the Cherokee now living on the Qualla reservation in North Carolina. In some of its phonetic forms it agrees with the Eastern dialect, but resembles the Western in having the "l" sound.
The Western dialect (The Overhill) is spoken by the Cherokee Nation in the West. Because of their isolation, the Kituwah dialect was less impacted by the influence of other Indian cultures and the many conflicts the Western Cherokee encountered. The Overhill dialect is the softest and most musical of this musical language.
Cherokees are the only Native American People who possess a writing system equivalent to the European alphabet. The Cherokee syllabary is the only alphabet in history attributed to be the work of one man, George Gist, known to the world as Sequoyah. Although he did not speak or read the English language, he understood the power of the written word. At first Sequoyah experimented with a writing system based on logograms, but found this cumbersome and unsuitable for Cherokee. He later developed a syllabary which was originally cursive and hand-written, but it was too difficult and expensive to produce a printed version, so he devised a new version with symbols based on letters from the Latin alphabet and Western numerals. After twelve years of dedicated work, Sequoyah finished the Cherokee syllabary in 1821. He spent the rest of his life teaching his people how to read and spell.
By 1820 thousands of Cherokees had learned the syllabary, and by 1830, 90% were literate in their own language. Books, religious texts, almanacs and newspapers were all published using the syllabary, which was widely used for over 100 years.
Today the syllabary is still used; efforts are being made to revive both the Cherokee language and Syllabary. Increasing numbers of Cherokee descendants are renewing their ties with their traditions, history and language. With this renewal comes the understanding that their Cherokee heritage must be preserved and passed on to the next generation. Cherokee courses are offered at a number of schools, colleges and universities.
This phrasebook contains over 2,700 terms and phrases in English and Cherokee with their Cherokee transliteration and pronunciation.
We also publish a Cherokee / English Dictionary and a Spanish / Cherokee Dictionary. Check our website for availability.