Talk:Cherokee syllabary

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LING 1101 Comments[edit]

This is quite a good article, some suggestions:

  • The section, "Syllabary" is redundant. The sections "Creation", "Description" etc... can have their own first order sections.
  • Some examples of Cherokee writing would be useful, preferably a sentence that showcases different features of the language, such as how the same character can represent both a /g/ or a /k/ sound depending on context (I think that's how it works). Possibly show a situation where a novice reader may be confused due to ambiguity in the script (if there is a possible meaningful situation).
  • Minor, but the section "Later Developments" probably shouldn't start with the word 'However', since it should be a standalone section.
  • You mention how many people currently speak Cherokee, but how many of them are literate in the syllabary, if this info is available?
  • When discussing how Sequoyah developed the script, was there a specific incident or other information that Sequoyah had access too? Where did he observe writing and how did he acquire texts to base the syllabary on?

Robert Schwartz (talk) 03:44, 20 November 2008 (UTC)

Cherokee Scouting[edit]

Can someone render "Be Prepared", the Scout Motto, into Cherokee script? Thanks! Chris 03:34, 12 August 2007 (UTC)

WikiProject class rating[edit]

This article was automatically assessed because at least one WikiProject had rated the article as start, and the rating on other projects was brought up to start class. BetacommandBot 16:30, 9 November 2007 (UTC)

Original basis for symbols?[edit]

Does anyone have any Wiki-appropriate information on what Sequoyah might have based the symbols on? What was his inspiration? I note no apparent visual link between symbols having the same vowel, or symbols having the same consonants, making each symbol seem to be purely arbitrary in form. Did Sequoyah in fact just make up each individual symbol, or was there some sort of systematic approach he used, perhaps as described in the Jamo design portion of the article on the Korean Hangul writing system?

Cheers, Erik Anderson, 19:47, 14 May 2008 (UTC)

I wish I had the references on hand right now, but I've always heard that Sequoyah had seen English newspapers, Hebrew books, and had access to a Greek Bible, which is probably why his syllabary resembles Greek more than any other written language. His original script can be seen here. Also he is the one that modified the syllabary for printmaking, at the urging of Samuel Worcester. -Uyvsdi (talk) 17:29, 25 March 2009 (UTC)Uyvsdi

A lot of the non-Latin looking letters resemble Georgian (Kartvelian) and Armenian. Some link is possible or just a coincidence?

Clearly Sequoyah looked at some of the symbols found in English texts, but it is important to note that he did not use them with anything like the same sound value. There is no evidence of a systematic shape-sound pattern, such as in the Ethiopian syllabary. Any resemblance between the Cherokee script and either Georgian or Armenian must be the result of chance. Let's face it: there are a limited number of basic squiggles possible so some similarity across the world is inevitable. For example, the Roman symbol U is pronounced as "ha" in Ethiopian script, just coincidence.Pete unseth (talk) 01:14, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
I'd say it's coincidence. Interestingly, Cyrillic would work pretty well, so long as Yus was included. Afalbrig (talk) 06:55, 14 May 2009 (UTC)

Yes, could someone please find some sources on this and get them in here? It's very interesting. I'm actually an expert on writing systems, hieroglyphic ones in particular, and from what I've been reading it appears he was illiterate, made up a syllabary, then modified it for printing. In all other cases of syllabary-creation, each glyph represents a picture of something which is associated with a word, the first syllable of which is used as the value for the glyph. But maybe Saquoyah just chose or made random glyphs which were later modified so that they ended up looking more like Roman, Cyrilic, Greek etc. By the way, this was common in the 1800's and probably before : early typefaces for Ethiopic make it look more like Roman than it actually did. Casting the lead stamps for printing was apparently cumbersome to this effect, I can imagine.

But it is not unusual that modern users of the glyphs care nothing for their origin or etymology : most writing systems are learned like this, throughout time and space, even Roman. Although the origin of the Roman Alphabet itself is now known, this information has not been incorporated into the American curricula; not to mention Hindi, Arabic, Chinese*, Japanese*, Korean*, etc., although the *-ed incorporate some limited etymology and/or folk etymology. And it should not be like this, but that humans are lazy and that archaeology is a young discipline : the origins of these writing systems was unknown before about 1800 and we continue to use the pedagogical methods from then.

I haven't seen the original syllabaries of Saquoyah, but the glyphs as we now know them are extremely abstract. Without something in the literature from Saquoyah or some tradition originating with him, matching such glyphs to words or pictures in the Cherokee iconography would be, well, interesting, yes, but tenuous, that is to say, uncertain.

I would like to call for a "wikipedia article ring" including such "scripts" or "proto-scripts" as Cherokee as well as the Alaskan Script, the Micmac Hieroglyphic (actually a mneumonic system, per Smithsonian's research and my investigations as well), and other such Native American and also non-Native American but, say, 1500-present made-up writing systems, like Cree Syllabary, Caroline Script, these Vai and Vah Syllabaries, Shorthand systems and Deserta Script etc. All of thees have relationships one to the other and each sheds much light on the other. For a good example, if you examine the history and details of Micmac Hieroglyphic and Cree Syllabary, you will find that even if Saquoyah was illiterate, he employed concepts which were at the time floating around, especially in missionary circles - Indian writing, logographic, syllabic writing systems.

Also, it seems likely from my reading and experience that if Saquoyah made the glyphs based on acrophonic logograms, he would have tried to get the word out so that it would make learning them easier. And are there any cursive forms?

Dwarfkingdom (talk) 20:34, 20 January 2013 (UTC)

In this same section, there is a link to a version of the "original" and it looks to me, based on all my experience with writing and pseudo-writing, that he just made up random squiggles similar to English Roman cursive. However, in Micmac Hieroglyphic and Shorthand systems, such glyphs could be assigned to single words (being in Shorthand idiomatic combinations of letters). Most people, unexperienced with writing systems, might think that people could just make up jibberish and assign it a value like "cat", but this is almost never what happens. Originally, all glyphs are pictures of things. In which case, Cherokee Syllabary makes useful my recent work on Codex Seraphinus and Voynich Manuscript and Asemic Writing. Analysis needs to be done on the original glyphs : most likely, he worked hard that there was little or no "overlap" between glyphs : none look too similar to another.

It seems just like what the traditional story says, that he was illiterate and had seen (English cursive) and so made up similar looking stuff thinking that was how it was done. Because apparently he didn't know how any writing system worked or its origins, because right off the bat he invented a script where all the glyphs look very similar, whereas in their original forms (consider Hindi, its Brahmi, and Proto-Semitic) each glyphs was at first a very distinct, recongizable picture, then later a still very distinct abstraction, and then in modern times a barely distinguishable futher abstraction.

The "for printing" version is much better in terms of more economical shapes, but still, the Roman (uppercase but not lower-case) alphabet is superior to Saquoyah's "for-print" syllabary. True Abjads are more economical than Alphabets which are more economical than Syllabaries. The Cree Syllabary is even better than this, though it was inspired by the Cherokee Syllabary's success. But using or making writing system is not entirely about economy.

So can anyone find something in the literature to this effect, some scholarly or learned opinion for this article? I'll be on the look-out. I recently looked it up in Daniels and didn't find anything terribly insightful, that I can remember, anyway.

All this brings up that there's a big leap between the "original" syllabaries and the "for-print" versions : because Saquoyah made up his alphabet mostly whole-cloth, it has a complicated creation process which I really think the Wikipedia article (and scholarly literature), should reflect. Compare the creation process for Cree Syllabary and Deseret Alphabet.

Dwarfkingdom (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 21:42, 20 January 2013 (UTC)

Ling 1100-108 comments[edit]

This is a very detailed article: so great!

This is very nitty gritty, and this isn't necessarily you're doing, but I've noticed that the article says that there are 85 syllables or characters repeatedly throughout. Repetition is not bad because people might immediately skip to different sections if they're looking for specifics, but it's a little much.

Also, can you understand what dummy vowels are in the description section? I was a little confused as far as their purpose and what they look like or where they show up.

You also included a lot of the history of the syllabary and I liked everything that you included and the organization of this information. However, can you expand on the Sequoyah story a little? Maybe describe which written works he looked at while forming the syllabary for 12 years if the information is available.

Good job! --Rda2512 (talk) 04:52, 20 November 2008 (UTC)

I am delighted all of you Cornell students are working on articles about writing systems. However, I suggest you think carefully about the differences between your course assignments from Ling 1100-108 and the ongoing functions of Wikipedia. As a start, I suggest you not use headers that are course specific in these discussion pages. Again, welcome aboard and I hope you improve some of the articles on writing systems!! Pete unseth (talk) 14:34, 20 November 2008 (UTC)

Destruction of early version[edit]

I remember reading in a children's book (Childcraft?) that an early version of the syllabary, written on bark, was burned by other Cherokees suspecting the "talking leaves" of sorcery, or something like that. Googling, I see references to his wife burning down his workshop to try to end his work on them. Is there a reliable source saying what happened, or just conflicting semi-reliable ones?--SarekOfVulcan (talk) 17:13, 25 March 2009 (UTC)

Simple but unwieldy table, please help[edit]

I have added a simple table that lists the transliterated and Unicode versions of the syllabary. The current Unicode chart is in code-point order, which I doubt will be useful to many people trying to study the syllabary. At least the version I've added can be more or less read (and cut-and-pasted). I'm no guru with Wiki syntax, so it's currently one unwieldy column. It would be great if the whole thing could be floated left, for instance, but I'm not sure how to do that. babbage (talk) 21:40, 12 August 2010 (UTC)

86th character[edit]

Wha did the 86th character look like, and what was its sound value? 惑乱 Wakuran (talk) 23:38, 10 December 2010 (UTC)

It was another hv, and looked like a vertically-inverted tsa (so somewhat like G). You can see it in section 4.2 of this page: -- (talk) 21:50, 10 March 2012 (UTC)
Actually it was the character "mv"—the missing sound in the modern syllabary.
It looks like the character Ꮐ (nah) without its “serif” on top. Here it is shown between Ᏺ (yo) and Ꮁ (hu). Here the orders of the "mv" and the rare Ꮐ (nah) are mixed up. OosakaNoOusama (talk) 19:31, 1 April 2013 (UTC)
This character is currently proposed for Unicode in (see figure 1 and 2), along with a proposal to add casing to Cherokee.Frédéric Grosshans (talk) 14:56, 25 February 2014 (UTC)

(Sans) Serif Version?[edit]

Does anyone know--and can someone post--if the Cherokee syllabary, as we see it in the article, is designed in such a way that the serifs and thicker/thinner edges are actually part of the actual language, or is simply the "serif" version of it, such that a sans-serif version of the Cherokee syllabary exists as well? -- (talk) 08:15, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

The typeface Aboriginal Sans Serif is available here, which includes Cherokee. — ᚹᚩᛞᛖᚾᚻᛖᛚᛗ (ᚷᛖᛋᛈᚱᛖᚳ) 06:21, 3 November 2011 (UTC)

Doesn't have an article on the syllabary?[edit]

This would be surprising, but it isn't linked in the "languages" tab. Unfortunately, I wouldn't know how to find the article on chr:, since I don't actually read the language... -- megA (talk) 15:26, 18 March 2012 (UTC)

No, there isn't one yet. -Uyvsdi (talk) 16:48, 18 March 2012 (UTC)Uyvsdi
Weird. Pity I can't contribute one myself. Thanks. -- megA (talk) 10:03, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
Ironically, I don't think there's a word for syllabary. -Uyvsdi (talk) 18:13, 20 March 2012 (UTC)Uyvsdi
Hmmm. So that's the reason there is no article ;-) -- megA (talk) 15:49, 23 March 2012 (UTC)

The character Ꮩ do[edit]

We require some proper evidence for the assertion in note 2. "The character Ꮩ do is shown upside-down in the chart, and in some fonts. It should be oriented in the same way as the Latin letter V." It displays like the Greek capital letter lambda Λ in all the Unicode fonts that I've come across so far. Likewise in both Chrome and Firefox browsers. DFH (talk) 21:07, 11 May 2012 (UTC)

[1] implies that there was a difference between the old-form DO (Λ-like) and (presumably) a new-form DO (V-like). The standard Digohweli font displays the new-form. Old Do Digohweli and Code2000 fonts both display the old-form. DFH (talk) 21:22, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
Main page updated to suit. DFH (talk) 21:26, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
Try viewing Cherokee text on a Mac; it will display correctly there. The old way is too easily confused with Ꮑ, but Ꮩ opens upwards. It's written that way in the Cherokee New Testament, and every in-print textbook or periodical I've ever come across. It's also written that way by hand, as you can see here (eg third line from the bottom) and here (eg in the first two full lines). I'm not aware of the old Ꮩ being used by anyone since the Civil War, though I don't know the exact date of the change. -- (talk) 14:27, 13 May 2013 (UTC)