Your Grandmother's Cherokee

Preserving the Cherokee language, one word at a time.

Badger woodcut

More from Wiggins Blackfox, Inoli

More from Wiggins Blackfox, Inoli:

Inoli really means badger, according to the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.  When they were naming us in English, they thought the badger was a black fox.

An "inoli" Is really a "fisher cat."  It's dark brown or black, a little larger than a house cat, in the weasel family.

Our language isn't like English.  People are always trying to mold it after English.  It doesn't fit.

For the English words “pretty good” as in “The fishing is pretty good here,” we don't say U-wo-do, o-s-da.  Also you don't say A-ya, yv-yo-i for the words “My Bad.” It is A-gi-li-da-s-da.

The English word MAKE many times doesn't translate in Cherokee.  Our words are more specific to the action. 

If I am making coffee, I say "Ko-wi tsi-ga-v-s-ga" which really means I'm boiling it.  A-ga-v-sga = he or she is boiling it.  A-ni-ga-v-s-ga = they are boiling it.  If I plan on making coffee and haven't started yet it would be "Ko-wi da-tsi-ga-ni."

If I am making soup or gravy, u-ga-ma, then I use the word for actually making something. “U-ga-ma ni-gv-ne-ha.”  If they are making soup (or gravy), two or more people, then “U-ga-ma na-nv-ne-ha.  In the future, I will make it: na di gv ne li.

Someone was leaving and wanted to say "Have a good weekend," in Cherokee.  But you can't say that.  We say "De-na-da-go-hv-yu" which means "We will see each other."  May be two days from now or twenty years.  

We might add "Ta-li-ne" which means again, or a second time.  "Ta-li-ne de-na-da-go-hv-yu" means "We will see each other again."


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