Your Grandmother's Cherokee

Preserving the Cherokee language, one word at a time.

Cherokee Primer, 1846

New Way - Old Words

As we tried to follow the Cherokee patterns in the Cherokee language, we kept running into two problems.  One was not having the full forms of the words.  (We’ll talk about the second problem a little later in the blog—English.)

Over the years, as people have spoken Cherokee language, they have dropped syllables and combined sounds together.  (This is common in all languages, but the process accelerates when languages are under attack by another, dominant language.)

In order to find the patterns, however, you need all the syllables.  To find words in their most complete form, we went to the oldest printed sources, going back all the way to 1756.  Some of the best sources of words, directly from Cherokee speakers, come from 1819—1850.  These words came from Cherokees like David Brown and Buck Watie. They were written down by missionaries Rev. Daniel Sabin Butrick and Rev. Samuel Worcester.

This is one reason we call this “Your Grandmother’s Cherokee.”  The full forms of the words—the forms that you can remember because you can see the patterns—these were used long ago.

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