Your Grandmother's Cherokee

Preserving the Cherokee language, one word at a time.

Cherokee Words--How Many?

Bullet Standingdeer as Cherokee Emissary at Colonial Williamsburg

Cherokee Words – How Many?  Part 1

A student asked last week “How many different words are there in Cherokee language?  Do they have different words for hungry and starving? Or do they just say really hungry?”

Gvgisdi - Watermelon

By Kumon (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Native to Africa, this fruit (Citrullis lanatus) has spread around the world. It was cultivated by ancient Egyptians more than three thousand years ago, and watermelon seeds were found in the tomb of King Tutankhamen.


Red Maples in the Great Smoky Mountains. Photo by Barbara R. Duncan

Gohi iga
This day

Kawoni taline
April 2nd

It’s warm outside

Atse tsogesi
Green fields
(Fields are green)

Flowers are blooming

Thanksgiving--Words for Eating

Eastern wild turkey from the National Wild Turkey Federation

Some Cherokee words specify whether the action is happening to a solid, liquid, flexible thing, long thing, or living thing.  This is another way that Cherokee language differs from English.  Talking about eating is very specific. 

Cherokee Soap Opera

Native American Man and Woman Eating, 1590. By Theodor de Bry. North Carolina Collection, UNC-Chapel Hill.

On Monday evening, the Cherokee language class made up this story, each person contributing one line.  We call it: Cherokee Soap Opera (in English).  

Asgaya:                       Sgigeyuhasg?


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