Your Grandmother's Cherokee

Preserving the Cherokee language, one word at a time.

"Cold Mountain Sunrise" © Scott Hotaling.  Used by permission.

Cherokee Merry Christmas

This time of year you might see greetings in Cherokee language:
Ulihelisdi Tsisa Undetiyisgv = Merry Christmas 
Ulihelisdi Atse Udetiyisgv =  Happy New Year 

When you look at these, you can see similar words.  Ulihelisdi means he, she, or it to-be-happy. You can relate all these words back to a word in the present that is easy to remember.  Galiheliga means I am happy, right now.  This has the same root –liheli-.  When we look at the patterns in Cherokee words, we see that this root stays the same while other parts of the word change to show who is doing the action or when the action is happening.  

We analyze the words and how they break into parts differently than others, because we are interested in the Cherokee patterns, not how the words compare to English grammar or fit into linguistic categories.  This way the Cherokee patterns are very consistent and logical and easy to learn. 

Not all English phrases can be translated into Cherokee, though.  “Tis the season to be jolly” might turn out something like this good wish for everyone: Nogwo ditsaliheligi!  You all be happy now!

"Cold Mountain Sunrise" © Scott Hotaling  Used by permission.


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