88 translated words added to Cherokee language

06/06/2018 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – During a March meeting, Cherokee speakers added 88 newly translated words to the tribe’s language. The new additions contain science, art and grammar terminology, which will be added to a terminology booklet.

Since 2007, a Cherokee language consortium of fluent speakers from the Cherokee Nation, United Keetoowah Band and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians have translated more than 2,500 modern English words into Cherokee.

“The reason we formed was because there are so many words that we did not have in Cherokee, for instance, ‘computer.’ All the newer stuff that we have in school and that we use in our homes, we didn’t have Cherokee words for that,” Anna Sixkiller, CN translator specialist, said.

Kathy Sierra, language consortium chairwoman, said at each quarterly meeting, a new list of words is brought and translations begin by writing out the English version, looking at the definition and describing the words using the Cherokee language.

“Just about everything that we say is described. We find the best description for that word,” she said.

Sixkiller said one English word, such as balloon, could have a long Cherokee name because Cherokee is a descriptive language. She said the translation for balloon is “you put air in there and it goes out.”

Also, laser printer when translated into Cherokee is described as “it lights up” and “it prints.”
Sixkiller said the consortium looks at the linguistics of the English word in what it does, who does it and when in time someone does it.

“The English language and the Cherokee language are two different languages. They don’t mix. I think the Cherokee language is unique, pretty and to the point,” Sixkiller said.

Sierra said the EBCI’s Cherokee dialect differs from Oklahoma Cherokees’ dialect and that the group takes that into consideration when translating words.

In the terminology booklet, Sixkiller said some words with two translations are marked with an (e) or (w) to denote eastern and western-style Cherokee.

The next language consortium meeting is set for June 13-15 in Cherokee, North Carolina, home of the EBCI.

To view the new words, click here.
About the Author
lindsey-bark@cherokee.org • 918-772-4223
Lindsey Bark grew up and resides in the Tagg Flats community in Delaware County. She graduated from Northeastern State University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication, emphasizing in journalism. She started working for the Cherokee Phoenix in 2016. Working for the Cherokee Phoenix, Lindsey hopes to ...


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