On Tsalagi: Did you know this about the word “Cherokee”?

Tsalagi (Cherokee)

“Cherokee” is the English language term for the Native people who originally called themselves Ani Yunwiya, the Principal People. The word “Cherokee” is a variation of the word “Tsalagi”, which is the term the Cherokee people commonly use to identify themselves today.

Cherokee is an Iroquoian language, but the relationship is a distant one and it doesn’t bear a close resemblance to other Iroquois languages. It has several dialects, some of which are sadly extinct. The two main dialects today are the North Carolina dialect used on the Qualla boundary, and the Oklahoma dialect used in Oklahoma. The two are similar enough that if you understand one you can understand the other. These lessons currently are based on the Oklahoma dialect, but we plan to add the North Carolina dialect soon.

Sequoyah, the great Cherokee linguist, developed a system for writing the Cherokee language. This writing system is based on a syllabary. In a syllabary, symbols are used to represent complete syllables in a language. This is different from an alphabet used in English, for example, where the symbols stand for short sounds.

The source for the above and the Cherokee syllabary can be foun here:


About emanita01

I am a Franco-american woman who hails from Massachusetts. I live in France near the Swiss border, only minutes away from Geneva. I am a member of the Geneva Writers Group and the Association La Forge, a literary group based in France. I write stories, poems and am currently working on a couple of plays, a one-woman show and actively learning how to perform stand-up comedy.
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