Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Grandmother in Cherokee

Q: I am going to be a grandmother for the first time. I am part Cherokee and would like my granddaughter-to-be to call me by the Cherokee word for Grandmother, but I don't know what it is. Could you help me?

A: Congratulations! The Cherokee language has different words for paternal and maternal grandparents. So traditionally, if this was your daughter's baby she would call you Elisi (pronounced similar to ay-lee-see), and if it was your son's baby she would call you Enisi (ay-nee-see.)

Today though, many Cherokee people have given up this distinction and use Elisi to address any grandmother.

Hope that helps, have a good day!
Native Languages of the Americas

Further reading:
Native American translations
Cherokee names
Cherokee kids page

12 comments:

  1. I read on another website it was Ulisi, with a U. Dialect difference, or mistake?

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  2. Different word form. "Ulisi" means "his or her grandmother." "Elisi" is a vocative form, used when you're speaking to your own grandmother.

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  3. I am a bit confused. On a few other pages it said that your maternal grandmother is Enisi, and your paternal grandmother is Elisi. Could you clarify which is correct? :)

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  4. Elisi is your maternal grandmother (your mother's mother), and Enisi is your paternal grandmother (your father's mother.) Actually, Enisi can refer to EITHER of your paternal grandparents (your father's mother or your father's father.) Elisi is a feminine word only. Hope that helps!

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  5. what is the grandfathers name? for Cherokee?

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  6. If you're speaking to him, "Grandfather" is Edudu in Cherokee. But just as with "grandmother," that originally referred only to your maternal grandfather. Paternal grandparents were called Enisi. It's a distinction that's disappearing, though. Many Cherokees use Edudu for either grandfather.

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  7. I'm wanting to tattoo my grandaughters name who is deceased with Edudu under it. I was told most use the word Eduda now? Anyone know?

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  8. I believe either can be correct. (There is a lot of dialect variation among final vowels in Cherokee.) Let me check with a few of our Cherokee speakers. The "E-" prefix there is for addressing somebody, though (i.e. what your granddaughter would say if she were speaking to you.) If you want to say "her grandfather" it would be Ududu.

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  9. My son refers to his grandmother as Enisi. I was hoping to make her a piece of art for her Birthday that said Enisi but was written in Cherokee. Does anyone know how to write Enisi using the Cherokee alphabet

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  10. Yes, you can see the Cherokee writing system here: http://native-languages.org/cherokee_alphabet.htm It's a syllabary, so you need to use one character per syllable: in your case, the three syllables labeled E, NI, and SI. Hope that helps!

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  11. I am writing a book charting American history A big part is the story of the natives, and your site has been so helpful Thank you very much and look out for my book, i think you will see it is very insightful. It is seen from the prospective of Mythol Eorthe

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