Language family: Hokan-Siouan

Language Group: Irokese

Geographical use: Oklahoma, Texas and North Carolina (USA)

Information: Cherokee is the second most spoken indian language of the American continent. It is spoken by 10 to 20 thousand people. It is the only indian language that developed a script, existing of 85 symbols. The other indian languages developed hieroglyphic scripts. This alphabet was developed in 1821 by Sequoya and spread quickly among the Cherokee population. By 1840 two newspapers were being printed in the Cherokee language.

Cherokee is a very accurate and economical language. It has a limited vocabulary but using a very precise system each word can be expanded. The verbs are actually short sentences, that not only describe what happened, but also the when and how. The nouns are descriptive. E.g. a horse is so qui li (it carries heavy things).

In 1838-1839 the Cherokee were forced to leave their land and settle in Oklahoma and Texas. Because of this the language split into two dialects. Some Cherokee stayed in the North Carolina hills and speak the eastern dialect.

More and more Cherokee youngsters rediscover their language. It is one of the few indian languages that actually grows.