Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Free People, and How Not To Be a Wannabee, Part 1

This does NOT mean “people who talk funny,” it means “The free people.” This flag – which is NOT a flag of any Cherokee community - ties in with a vision and oral tradition shared with me in 1998 by medicine elders in Peru. It also ties in with current DNA research, and with written records kept by Keetoowahs in Oklahoma. I’ll bring more of it out over the next weeks.

As some of you know, I’ve face health challenges including surgeries and hospitalization this year. This has delayed me from getting more content up on the Speak Cherokee web site, but be assured that’s my top priority. If you’re a student and have sent me a question that I haven’t answered, please send it again.

Some time ago I asked the members of this mailing list WHY you want to learn the language. Many answers amounted to “Because I AM Cherokee,” or “Because it’s part of my ancestry and heritage.” That’s fine, but is that really a reason that will make you go back to the course material over and over again when you’re frustrated at your lack of progress? Less than 10% of the people who sign up for the free list ever go on to subscribe to the classes. Of those, only a minority ever complete the tests. I’d love to bring out improvements such as a Cherokee-language-only chat room, but I can’t afford do it for a handful of people.

How Not To Be A Wannabee, Lesson 1:

I knew someone who grew up in Kenya, which was then a colony in British East Africa. When speaking English he called it “KEEN-ya,” as the British called the colony, but while speaking Kikuyu he pronounced it “KENN-ya.” He did it so automatically, he wasn’t even aware that he was making the distinction until it was brought to his attention. That’s simply the way each community and each language in Kenya handled it. (NOTE: since independence, the official pronunciation is KENN-ya in every language, so some of you younger people may have never heard it pronounced KEEN-ya)

Cherokee speakers use the word “Tsalagi” or “Jalagi” only when speaking that language. When speaking English they say “Cherokee”. If somebody asks what nation you’re from and you answer Tsalagi rather than Cherokee, expect to be placed in the wannabee column. You’re showing off that you know the word, but you’re not using it as a native speaker would.

More to come!
Brian Wilkes

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thank you for a chanch to learn i have always wanted to learn my good fathers and mother language they took the jurney when i was small i truley want to learn moor then my breath of air i want to keep it alive because it has kept me alive trying to learn it thank you for teaching the scaret language thank you for listioning to me