This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Nuts and Bolts: Cherokee writing.

Written Cherokee is special. It is written in special characters:

and it was probably invented from scratch by one very special man. He was called Sequoyah:
Even more remarkably, although Sequoyah had a Bible (whose "talking leaves" alerted him the concept of writing) he couldn't read it. He couldn't read anything.
He started off trying to make up a symbol for each word in his language, but he soon changed his system to what is mostly a syllabary (which has, as you'd expect, a symbol for each syllable) though he made up some vowel symbols, too. He ended up with 86 characters.
He started his project in 1809 and finished his system in around 1821.

The stupendous thing is that by 1824 most Cherokees could read and write.
Very wonderfully, his system is still in use today:

Thing To Do Today: make up a symbol. It could be one that means I have read this, or boring, or rubbish, or this was done under protest.

Then tip your hat to the marvellous Sequoyah.

PS From the birth of a writing system to another birthday: The Word Den is two years old today.

May I take this opportunity to wish Many Happy Returns to every single one of you who comes to play.


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