Yesterday I posted about Chelsea Falin’s new release, today she comes to the blog as a guest to speak about an element from her new book, Personal Growth.
A Lesson In Choctaw
My main character in the ‘Growing Roots’ series, Willie, begins to learn her native language as a way to further embrace her culture, so I thought I would give everyone reading a brief lesson in Choctaw. While I do not speak the language fluently, I myself have endeavored to learn it, as it is also one of my own two native languages- the other being Tsalagi, the Cherokee language.
Choctaw is actually quite a complex language, despite the fact that it uses the Latin alphabet (with some variation, of course). The grammar and such involved takes years and years to learn, so we won’t really delve into that today. I will teach you a few easy to remember words, however, which might actually benefit you when you read ‘Personal Growth.’ You’ll be able to say “Hey! I already knew that word!”
The first word any person should ever learn is how to say hello. Hello is actually a very easy word to remember: Halito. It sounds like this: ha-lee-toe. The second thing you need to learn is how to actually say the language you are speaking. Although a lot of people simply call it Choctaw, the true word for the language and the people is Chahta. It sounds like this: Chah-ta. Just like it’s spelled. The second ‘h’ is a soft sound though, so the way you say the word almost makes it sound as though the h is silent, even though it’s actually not. Still following me here?
You will notice that both ‘Less Than Humble Beginnings’ and ‘Personal Growth’ begin with the words: Halito. Ant Chukoa. You know the first part of this phrase already. Halito, Hello. Ant Chukoa means come in. I’m basically inviting you to read my book. Isn’t that sweet? Haha. The phrase sounds like this: An-t chew-co-a. Almost the way it’s spelled, but just a little bit differently.
Are you ready for your colors? That would be the next thing a child would learn, so here you go: Red is homma (hoe-ma), white is tohbi (just like the modern day man’s name), yellow is lakna (lak-na), blue is okchakko (oak-chak-ko), and green is okchamali (oak-cha-ma-lee). Some of those should be easy to remember. I know that tohbi and homma were easy for me to remember. Do you know, by the way, why the word for red looks so familiar? It’s because homma is part of the word Oklahoma. In the Choctaw language, Oklahoma actually means “red people” or “land of the red people.” The Choctaw were the very first nation to be transported to what was then known as I.T. or Indian Territory, and that is what they decided to name the land they were “given.”
Okay, let’s do one last thing. I will teach you how to count to five, and then I will stop pushing information into you so you’re brain doesn’t ache. (Trust me, I know mine sure did when I first tried to learn Chahta Anumpa– the Choctaw language…oops I did it again!) Here you go, numbers 1 through 5:
1 Achaffa (ah-chaf-fa)
2 Tuklo (tuk-low)
3 Tuchina (two-chee-na)
4 Tahlapi (ta-hla-pee)
5 Hannali (han-na-lee)
I hope you found your quick Choctaw lesson insightful, or at the very least, an amusing way to pass the time. If you do so happen to have more interested in learning Chahta Anumpa, you can always check out Chahta Anumpa Aiikhvna– the School of Choctaw Language.