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Counting in Tsalagi Counting in Cherokee Cherokee Numbers Tsalagi Numbers

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The Cherokee (Tsalagi) language is an Iroquoian language. It is written with a syllabary system that was devised by a warrior named Sequoyah in 1819. Sequoyah was born between 1760 and 1776. Since accurate records were not kept back then it is hard to say exactly what year. Sequoyah was born. Sequoyah was most likely born with some sort of a deformity perhaps a clubbed foot or such as his name means “hog” or “pig foot”. There is no reference to an accident or injury to have caused his deformity.

Around 1809 Sequoyah, then a silversmith working with traders, began devising the unique syllabary system. Impressed with the written text the traders used, the Native Americans referred to the text as “talking leaves”. It took Sequoyah almost 10 years to devise and develop what we now know as the Tsalagi language. It is rumored that his wife (he had two and it does not state which one) burned the first fruits of his efforts believing that it to be witchcraft.

In order to learn to count in Tsalagi, one must know a few pronunciation keys. The vowel sounds in Tsalagi are as follows:

Vowel Sounds

a as in father or short as in rival

e as in hate or short as in met

I as in pig or short as in pit

o as in note almost sounding as aw in law

u as in a double o sound such as fool or short as in pull

v as in u though this one is very nasal


g as in k

d as in t

the following letters, h, k, l, m, n, q, s, t, w, and y are the same as in English

Special note: do, du and dy are often spelled as to, tu and tv in some words, They are frequently interchangeable.

For more detailed information, check out Ravens resource page here: Resource Page

To count from one to ten one would use the following:

1 sowo

2 tali

3 tsoi

4 nvgi

5 hisgi

6 sudali

7 galiquogi

8 tsunela

9 sonela

10 sgohi

Going up from one to ten one would add in the “s” or -du suffix after the word which can and often does change the word phonetically.

11 sadu

12 talidu

13 tsogadu

14 nigadu

15 hisgadu

16 daladu

17 galiquadu

18 neladu

19 soneladu

20 talisgohi

The Tsalagi language is now only spoken by about 20,000 people and the translation for numbers currently has only been translated to 999,999. For more information on the Tsalagi language you can go to the following: to count in Cherokee This site has more detailed information on counting and goes into the higher numbers as well as showing you how the written language looks.

You can also refer to Ravens site (Link Raven's Resource page above) or to Wikipedia at link to Sequoyah

More about this author: Linda L Kinyon

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