The Cherokee language includes six vowel sounds.

  • [ɑ] is pronounced “ah” as in “father” or “water” (ex. ᎠᎹ (ama), meaning “water”).
  • [e] is pronounced “eh” or “ay” as in “egg” or “lane” (ex. ᏎᎷ (selu), meaning “corn”).
  • [i] is pronounced “ee” as in “tree” (ex. ᏏᏲ (siyo), meaning “hello”).
  • [o] is pronounced “oh” as in “hello” (ex. ᎣᎩᎾᎵᎢ (oginaliʔi), roughly meaning “my friends”); very little rounding occurs when pronouncing this vowel in Cherokee
  • [u] is pronounced “oo” as in “blue” (ex. ᎤᏔᎾ (utana), meaning “big”); very little rounding this vowel in Cherokee and is often pronounced more like [ɯ ~ ʉ]
  • [ə͂ ~ ʌ̃] is pronounced like “uh” as in “butter”, but nasalized, similar to the French sound un (ex. ᎥᏝ (vtla), meaning “no”)

In the beginning and middle of a word, only one of the vowels is nasalized. The last vowel of the word is always nasal. These vowels cannot be combined to form diphthongs.