Lecture25 - Writing Systems of the World Lecture 25 April...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Writing Systems of the World 1 Lecture 25 April 18, 2007 In the early 19th century Sequoyah worked out a writing system for Cherokee. The Cherokee language belongs to the Iroquoian family. At the time of European contact, the Cherokee territory included what would later be parts of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama. Most people who speak Cherokee today live in Oklahoma. Sequoyah (1770?–1843) was born in what is now Tennessee. He had the English name George Guess and was a soldier in a Cherokee unit on the American side in the War of 1812, but he was monolingual Cherokee speaker. He knew that marks on paper could somehow represent English, and he reportedly tried to come up with a logogram for every Cherokee word before he got the idea of a syllabary. He finished working on his system in 1819 and gave a public demonstration. Sequoyah’s writing system is a quasi-syllabary that leaves many of the phonemic distinc- tions of Cherokee unrepresented. Sequoyah’s Cherokee writing system is often called an alphabet, but it has 85 graphs, and it’s basically a quasi-syllabary . In most cases, a single letter represents a V or CV syllable. For example: /e/ /la/ /t ˢ i/ /k ʷ o/ Many of the letter shapes are clearly based on the roman alphabet, but there’s no relation- ship between the sounds represented by the similar appearing letters in the two systems. For example, compare the Cherokee letters below to the first four letters of the roman alphabet. /ko/ /y ə̃ / /t ˡ i/ /a/ There’s no readily available and widely accepted analysis of Cherokee phonology, so the description of the syllabary provided here is sketchy and avoids going into the problematic details. The Cherokee now spoken in Oklahoma uses pitch differences to distinguish words to some extent, but it isn’t clear whether or not it should be described as a full-fledged tone language. Cherokee also has phonemically distinct long and short vowels. But the writing system doesn’t represent pitch or vowel length, so the letters above are all polyvalent . For example, the letter can represent either /la/ (with a short vowel) or /la ː / (with a long vowel) carry- ing any pitch.
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Writing Systems of the World 2 Lecture 25 April 18, 2007 The Cherokee writing system never represents / ʔ / , and it doesn’t represent /h/ at the end of a syllable: /t ʰ a/ /li/ ᏔᎵ /t ʰ a ʔ .li/ ‘two’ /su/ /ti/ ᏑᏗ /suh.ti/ ‘fishhook’ /t ˢ o/ /i/ ᏦᎢ /t ˢ o ː . ʔ i/ ‘three’ Cherokee distinguishes voiceless aspirated and voiceless unaspirated stops and affricates (although some linguists analyze the aspirated consonants as clusters of an unaspirated
Background image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Page1 / 6

Lecture25 - Writing Systems of the World Lecture 25 April...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 3. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online