Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lost in Translation; Cherokee Calendar Bonus Ends Monday

Last Friday, I had the good fortune to spend a few hours with Keetoowah News editor, photographer, and language instructor Sammy Still and his wife Dama. I had last seen Sammy in 2002 during a trip to Tahlequah.

We spoke briefly on teaching the language. He mentioned that one of the problems is that for the past three decades, the field has been dominated by talented linguists, who have dissected, analyzed and re-assembled parts of the Cherokee language. This is great for another linguist, giving them the schematic diagrams for the language. This is sometimes called “classical method,” and is the way languages have been taught in schools for centuries.

But, he said, Cherokee is more complex than that. Exact word to word translations are difficult, and often imprecise. The English word automobile, “self-moving”, is translated into Cherokee with several other words depending on locality. These mean “big eyes,” “it stares back”, and “rubber touches road”. The first two translations refer to the headlights, the last to the wheels. The English concept of “self-moving” or “self-propelled” isn’t there. The meanings are also lost going from Cherokee to English.

Still said that Cherokee needs to be learned in context of the culture and community. This is known as “natural method,” because it’s the way we learn our first language as babies.

I don’t mean to belittle in any way those teachers who use the classical method. When I was planning Speak Cherokee, I thought that the new technology offered a great chance to use the natural method. Push a button, hear a word, repeat until your pronunciation sounds close. It’s why the curriculum is moving to more use of video as well as audio. It’s also why Test 2 and above require you to record your tests answers, so I can correct your pronunciation.

Since I’ll bee out of the office for a few days, I’m extending the Cherokee Calendar bonus deadline to Monday, November 2. Select any of our three paid subscriptions to the course this Sunday or Monday, and you’ll receive as a bonus the 2010 Cherokee Calendar. The Calendar is no longer available as a separate product, but only as a bonus for passing Test 3. So now through Monday, you can get one just for enrolling at

Talk to you next week!
Nvwadohiyada, Healing and peace to you.
Brian Wilkes

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mitochondrial DNA in Cherokees - Egyptian, Greek, Phoenician and Hebrew Origins?

We have always had an oral tradition that at least part of our people came by boat from a land across the waters to the East. Modern science suggests those stories told by the Elders are more than fairy tales.


Dr. Yates can also advise you on the best DNA test to meet your needs, depending on just where in your ancestry, your family tree, you suspect that 'bird' is hiding!

[The woman in the photo is wearing a tradition Cherokee style dress, finishing a traditional Cherokee design in the pot. But she's not Cherokee, she's Berber from Morocco - the "land across the sea"? Many linguistic and cultural clues suggest early contact with the Mediterranean, including Berber Mauritania, Carthage, Etruria, Minoan Greece, Troy, and Phoenicia.]

Brian Wilkes

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tradition, Diet, and Longevity

For those of you who watch what you eat, here's the final word on nutrition and health. It's a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional studies:

1. The Japanese eat very little fat
And suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat
And suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

3. The Chinese drink very little red wine
And suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine
And suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

5. The Germans drink a lot of beers and eat lots of sausages and fats
And suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.


Brian Wilkes

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Harvest Month, and You Can Harvest a 2010 Calendar

Osiyo! Greetings!

Gohi-iga nvgineiga, igvyi-iga Duninvdi.
Today (is) Thursday, first day (of) October.

Duninvdi (doo-NEEN-dee) come from a word meaning harvest, and this is the time we harvest the crops and medicines that let us survive the coming winter. It’s the time we show thanks to our Creator and Provider, to the Earth, and to each other for the harvest.

This mailing list is approaching 600, so to celebrate the milestone there will be gifts! All of those enrolled in Speak Cherokee Level One for any portion of the month of October will receive the 2010 Cherokee Calendar. I had not planned to do another calendar because sales demand didn’t justify it, but several students told me it helped them as a learning tool. So this will be my Harvest Thanks giveaway.

After October 31st, the 2010 Calendar will be a reward for correctly completing Test 3.

So if you needed another incentive to begin your study of the Cherokee language, here it is!

Until next time,
All the best,

Brian Wilkes