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Cherokee Language Tutor


The Cherokee Syllabary

Sequoyah, the great Cherokee linguist, developed a system for writing the Cherokee language. This writing system is based on a syllabary. In a syllabary, symbols are used to represent complete syllables in a language. This is different from an alphabet used in English, for example, where the symbols stand for short sounds.

The Cherokee syllabary is shown below. The Cherokee letters are the larger symbols. Their names, or sounds, are shown in English.

Sequoyah's Syllabary

You'll notice some of the Cherokee letters resemble some symbols used in the English alphabet. It is important to remember that these Cherokee letters do not represent the same sounds used in English. For example, the Cherokee letter looks like the English letter "D", but is pronounced "ah" in Cherokee. A pronunciaiton guide for the Cherokee letters is shown below.

Pronunciation Guide

Sounds Represented By Vowels Sounds Represented By Consonants
'a' as in 'father', or short as in 'rival' 'g' nearly as in English, approaching to 'k'
'e' as in 'hate', or short as in 'met' 'd' nearly as in English, approaching to 't'
'i' as in 'pique, or short as in 'pit' 'h, k, l, m, n, q, s, t, w, y' as in English
'o' as in 'note', approaching 'aw' in 'law' Syllables beginning with 'g', except 'ga', are sometimes sounded 'k'
'u' as 'oo' 'fool', or short as 'u' in 'pull' 'go', 'du', 'dv', are sometimes sounded 'to', 'tu', 'tv',
'v' as 'u' in 'but', nasalized syllables written with 'tl', except 'tla', sometimes vary to 'dl'

Our Cherokee Syllabary Lessons will focus on a single row of the syllabary at a time. Each lesson will display a row for you to study and a quiz for you to test your knowledge.

Tsalagi (Cherokee) Syllabary Lessons

First Row Eighth Row
Second Row Ninth Row
Third Row Tenth Row
Fourth Row Eleventh Row
Fifth Row Twelfth Row
Sixth Row Thirteenth Row
Seventh Row

The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma offers an excellent free online Cherokee Language course:

Cherokee Nation
Online Language Class

We also suggest the following books and audio courses:

Books about Sequoyah:

Visit the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum
in Vonore, Tennessee


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