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You Two Are Going To Chew It

from Wednesday, June20th of the year2007.

ÙˆOne of the best things about the “international” panel on Macs is the picture-1.png list of keyboard layouts. One of the most exciting ones for me is the Native American representation; I really really hope there are a bunch of Cherokee schoolchildren in Utah somewhere writing to each other in Cherokee on MySpace or something. Anyway, I went to the Wikipedia entry on Southern Athabaskan languages, which comprises Navajo and Apache, among others, and I discovered much to my finger-twiddling delight the following examples.

from Chiricahua Apache

cha,a, ‘feces’
chaa ‘beaver’
shiban ‘my buckskin’
shibán ‘my bread’
bik’ai’ ‘his hip’
bík’ai’ ‘his stepmother’
hah’aaÅ‚ ‘you two are going to chew it’
hah’aÅ‚ ‘you two are chewing it’

On a page linked to the Wikipedia entry, this one more focused on Navajo grammar, we learn more about how prefixes and suffixes work in the language. Writing systems are always very exciting to me; there is something particularly interesting about Native American (which includes Canada, for the purposes of right now) systems and their interactions with Christian missionaries ““ check out this about Inuktitut; picture how cold it must have been in whatever weird outpost, with people huddled around a paraffin lamp or something, organizing their abugida! I wish somebody would send me pictures of these procedures.

You know who would have totally made an oil painting of it is the Mormons. Say what you will, they are Organized. Everybody should take a moment and peruse this page and this page. img03277.jpgThey have had this stuff online for a while; I just went into my archive and found a picture I had downloaded from them in 2000, of two men blessing a sick little girl. I think it’s really smart that they have an image bank for their entire religious history ““ Islam has a font bank and the Mormons have an image bank. They have chosen the, say, seven hundred images that are the most important to their visual sense of their ecclesiastical and personal histories and have made them completely accessible to anybody, anywhere. If you like Free Fun, take some time and watch the PBS Mormon Documentary for totally Free online.


  • I assume you saw the recent New Yorker article on the Pirahã language? As Wikipedia says, “it can be whistled, hummed, or encoded in music”.

  • Not wishing to ruin your geographic sensibilities, but Utah is not home to any of the Cherokee nations. Knowing your penchant for detail, I thought you would be interested in knowing that we have Navajo, Ute, Paiute, Shoshoni, and Goshute here in Utah. Among these tribes there are several formally-organized councils, including:

    Goshute Indian Tribe
    (Confederated Tribes of Goshute Reservations)

    San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe

    Navajo Nation

    Skull Valley Band of Goshute Indians

    Northwestern Band of Shoshoni Tribe

    Ute Indian Tribe

    Northwestern Band of Shoshoni Tribe

    Ute Mountain Ute Tribe

    Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah

    White Mesa Ute Council

  • Thank you so much for your correction, Brad. In all this language wikipedia-ing, I got over-excited. I should have said Oklahoma; I actually read a great article about Cherokee track and field stars in the Cherokee Phoenix. Anyway, also thanks for your helpful links. Am presently at Miss Navaho Nation website. Where in Utah are you? Now, is it proper etiquette to go back and write “Oklahoma,” or do I leave my mistake up there, or what? Thanks again. -N

  • Haven’t a clue about the etiquette of blogs; though am sure there are (or will be) books a plenty . . .

    I am in West Jordan, about 15 miles southwest of Salt Lake City on the east bench of the Salt Lake Valley.