Before you continue with learning the Cherokee language, it is important to be able to read and write in Cherokee. That is what this lesson will help you with.

The Cherokee language does not use a alphabet, but a syllabary. That means each Cherokee symbol represents a syllable, not just a consonant or a vowel. Because of this, Cherokee symbols are arranged in a chart, with a column for each Cherokee vowel and a row for each Cherokee consonant.

Below is a chart of the Cherokee Syllabary:

New Cherokee letters

Sounds Represented by Vowels

IPA-sound-representations in [].

a (as in father, or short as in rival)[a~ɑ]
e (as in hate, or short as in met)[ɛ~e]
i (as in pique, or short as in pit)[i~ɪ]
o (as in law, or short as in not)[ɔ~o]
u (as in fool, or short as in pull)[ʊ~u]
v (as in but, nasalized)[ʌ̃]

Exercises edit

/Yet to come: A good exercise would be to have a whole bunch of words in Cherokee syllabary, and the student can transliterate them, and then check the answer's--and vice versa./

  • Example: o-si-yo (hello). First write the syllable for o then si then yo.
  • Example 2: ᎠᎹ(a-ma') (water). First write the syllable for Ꭰ(a) and then for Ꮉ(ma).

Learning the Cherokee Syllabary is a important part of learning the Cherokee language. Hopefully after these exercises you have gotten familiar with them. You'll continue to get more and more familiar with constant use, and all the next lessons will be in the Syllabary. Don't get discouraged though, if you don't completely know the Syllabary yet. The next few lessons will have the Latin transcription side by side with the syllabary to help you. But pay attention to the syllabary, as the transliteration will slowly be phased out.

One of the better ways to learn the Syllabary is by writing the letters out individually by dictation.

One source of Cherokee Syllabary dictation is: