Questions/Help

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Æxylis
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help deciding on a nail language

Postby Æxylis » 2011-01-08, 13:05

Hello all...
I've had some interest in studying one of these fascinating languages for a while but I don't even know where to begin.... I don't know enough about any of the cultures to really have a preference for one or another and I don't really know much about the language families or the grammar styles they use... I've looked into inuktitut a little bit before and I like the feel and sound of lakota, also, I have an interest in the aztec, mayan, and incan cultures, as well as the anasazi, so their languages would be of intere, but I don't really know which of these would be a good fit for me...
I live in utah so the first languages that come to mind would be ute, navajo, hopi, and nahuatl... at least those are the ones I think are the closest around here...
I have an interest in finding a language that is polysynthetic, preferably without or with little use of tone, and a relatively small phonetic inventory...
Если хочешь говорить со мной по скайпу, мой скайп нейм - jaakuuta
If you want to speak with me on Skype, my Skype name is jaakuuta

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Re: help deciding on a nail language

Postby księżycowy » 2011-01-08, 18:20

Where as I'm not really an expert or anything, I might still be able to help some.

If I'm not mistaken, poly-synthetic means that 'words' are made up of different grammatical parts, right? Like having a noun or verb stem and then having a few prefixes and suffixes?
If I'm right, take your pick!
Many Native American languages are poly-synthetic to my knowledge.

As far as one that doesn't have tones, or doesn't have a large phonetic inventory . . .
Well the Iroquoian, Uto-Aztecan and Algonquian languages (to my knowledge) don't generally have large phonetic inventories. Generally they have only a handful of consonants, vowels can be a little more numerous, but still not that bad in my experience.

If you're just starting off in N.A. languages, I'd be wary or Navajo and similar languages (Athabascan). The grammar of the verbs can be difficult (though not impossible) to understand. Just a suggestion. :wink:

Oh, and most of the languages you (and I) mentioned don't have tones. Only Navajo does, but only high and low tones, so even Navajo isn't too bad with the tones.

Hope that helps some . . .
Maybe someone like Formiko or Nero can help out a little more.

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Re: help deciding on a nail language

Postby księżycowy » 2011-01-14, 15:27

Looks like you might be stuck with my help for now. :twisted:
If you're still interested in learning an NA language, I'd just recommend you look around at some of the languages you're interested in and see if anything jumps out at you. It's kind of hard to recommend any NA languages, mainly because there are so many in many different language families.
Though if your interest is in highly polysynthetic languages, I'd recommend (at least from my experience) an Iroquoian, Salishan (?) or Algonquian language.

I'm currently learning Mohawk and Arapaho and can say without a doubt that they are quite polysynthetic.

Other languages that I know are:
Blackfoot (Algonquin)
Cherokee (Iroquoian)
Oneida (Iroquoian)
Cayuga (Iroquoian)
Cree (Algonquin) (pretty sure, but not 100%)
Lushooteed (Salishan) (?)

Not sure of too many others at this point . . .
The languages of the Southwest tend to be agglutinative. Especially the Uto-Aztecan languages.
Athabascan (like Navajo) and the Sioux (like Lakhota) languages are not as polysynthetic as other NA languages (if at all). Though as I said before, I'm far from an expert on linguistics. :P

And I for one would be happy to help you with Mohawk or Arapaho if you decide to do either of those.
And of course Formiko can help on Mohawk and a few others.

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Re: Help me learn a language any language.

Postby johnH » 2011-03-20, 23:09

I love your user name. cherokee looks c00l.
Anyway,–, looking into inuktitut, right now. wee Hmm yes i'm a very inactive member on the cherokee forum.
‹(o.o)›, it's got a very lively politics section.
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New Learner

Postby eirinn14 » 2011-06-03, 12:52

Hi, I'm wondering if any of you could help me. I'm really interested in learning Navajo and/or Cherokee (Navajo after a long-standing interest in their language and history, Cherokee because I just like their syllabary :) ) but am having some trouble getting started. I was wondering if any of you could tell me

a) is it a stupid idea to learn both at once?

b) if not, what are the best websites/books/resources for each or either? I have found a couple of books that look useful but for some reason Amazon is pricing them at upwards of £90...

c) with regards to Cherokee, is it most useful to learn the syllabary before any vocab and then learn how to say and write words at the same time, or to learn to speak first, or take a two-pronged approach?

Any answers to any of those questions would be much appreciated :)

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Re: New Learner

Postby linguoboy » 2011-06-03, 16:36

Unless you're an experienced language learner, I'd stick with one at a time. For sure if this is your first foray outside Indo-European.

For Cherokee, it depends how you learn. If it's the syllabary that's gotten you interested in it, then it seems reasonable to pursue that first. There must be some graduated primers out there which would teach you syllabary and vocabulary in tandem.
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Re: New Learner

Postby eirinn14 » 2011-06-03, 17:00

I have learned more than one language at once before, however I take your point about how unrelated they are to any Indo-European language. I was thinking of doing the basics of both and seeing how I go. Thanks for the advice though.

It is the syllabary that got me interested in Cherokee, especially its development/invention and subsequent boom. I've never learned a language that uses a different script before though and am finding the idea a bit daunting. Also I find it slightly confusing looking at abstract syllables without an example word to remember pronounciation etc. I have looked online but can't seem to find any teach-yourself language guides...there are a lot of courses but not in Scotland!

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Re: New Learner

Postby księżycowy » 2011-06-03, 19:25

eirinn14 wrote:Hi, I'm wondering if any of you could help me. I'm really interested in learning Navajo and/or Cherokee (Navajo after a long-standing interest in their language and history, Cherokee because I just like their syllabary :) ) but am having some trouble getting started. I was wondering if any of you could tell me

Well, although I don't have a ton of experience with those two languages speciffically, I'd be happy to help.

a) is it a stupid idea to learn both at once?

I second Lingouboy's comment to this question. If you haven't learned a NAI language before, I'd stick with one and see how that goes. I know this first hand! :P
But it's far from stupid to learn them, so that's fine! :D
b) if not, what are the best websites/books/resources for each or either? I have found a couple of books that look useful but for some reason Amazon is pricing them at upwards of £90...
I have quite a few books for both languages in the 'Learning Resources' thread. Not sure if you check the thread out yet of not. If you're looking for recommendations I'd be happy to help. As for prices, I'm not sure what to say . . .

c) with regards to Cherokee, is it most useful to learn the syllabary before any vocab and then learn how to say and write words at the same time, or to learn to speak first, or take a two-pronged approach?

It can depend. The syllabary isn't exactly phonetic anymore (as with most syllabaries). So I'd say it'd probably be best to learn to speak, and in the course of things learn the syllabary.

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Re: New Learner

Postby eirinn14 » 2011-06-03, 19:38

Thanks for the advice and the offer of help :) I haven't looked in the Language resources section yet - I'm quite new to unilang and so far have only been on a couple of the messageboards. I did find the Cherokee course but the PDFs of the syllabary wouldn't load properly although the sound files were helpful.

Generally, how hard is it for speakers of European languages to learn Native American ones? I see you have some Irish and I am studying for a degree in Gaidhlig so I have some experiences with languages that almost require a completely different mindset to that of your native language - I'm guessing that Cherokee/Navajo would be a hundred times harder though? :P

Thanks again!

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Re: Questions/Help

Postby księżycowy » 2011-06-03, 19:52

Well, I only have a little experience with Navajo, and next to none with Cherokee. Though I do have some experience with the other Iroquoian languages and quite a bit with Arapaho.

The hardest thing about Cherokee grammar wise (which is very similar with the other Iroquioan languages and Arapaho) is that it is a polysynthetic language. This means that nouns and verbs are combined together to make one word. Essentially all the words in Cherokee is equivalent to a whole phrase (if not sentence) in English.

Navajo grammar I'm not too familiar with, but I do know the forms of the verbs can be a bit confusing for learners. You'll either need to have a few resources to help with the verb changes, or just forgo the changes all together and learn the full paradigms. Oh, and it's a tonal language. But the tones aren't that hard.

Of course the grammar can be learned if you stick with it. The hardest thing I've found is retaining the vocabulary. This is of course coming from an Anglophone, but as most learners here would most likely be outside the native realm themselves, I imagine it applies to most of you as well.

People who are coming from a Indo-European only realm are in for a 'treat.' The vocabulary is completely alien (as one would expect).

Hope that didn't scare you away!
None of what I said is meant to make it sound like it's impossible. It can be a rewarding challenge!

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Re: Questions/Help

Postby limoneneis » 2011-06-05, 10:19

eirinn14 wrote:Hi, I'm wondering if any of you could help me. I'm really interested in learning Navajo and/or Cherokee (Navajo after a long-standing interest in their language and history, Cherokee because I just like their syllabary :) ) but am having some trouble getting started.


I hope you decide to learn Navajo! Then I would have another learner to talk to :D . I think Księżycowy has already answered most of your questions. I am using "Diné Bizaad: Speak, Read, Write Navajo" by Irvy W. Goossen as a textbook. For the verbs I recommend "The Navajo Verb" by Leonard M. Faltz. They are both very good and easy to use for self-teaching.
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Re: Questions/Help

Postby eirinn14 » 2011-06-05, 16:55

I'm thinking of getting that book, I've seen it online a few times. I'm moving out at the moment though so will order it once I have a fixed address. Don't suppose you know of a similar book for Cherokee? :) And are there any online resources - there's a Cherokee course on Unilang but not one for Navajo so anything would be appreciated :)

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Re: Questions/Help

Postby księżycowy » 2011-06-05, 17:16

I have a copy of Beginning Cherokee by Holmes and Smith and would recommend it (though it is a little bland). You could also try the new online textbook over as cherokeelessons.com, though I'm not a huge fan of the way they did the audio. I don't think the project is complete yet, but the text is pretty good.

And yes, Dine Bizaad is a great textbook. Though if you're going that route I'd recommend getting the other book limoneneis mentioned, The Navajo Verb.
There are also two textbooks by Wilson that don't go into the grammar of verbs, but instead give full paradigms. I have a copy of both books and would recommend those as well. It just comes down to how fast you want to get into the verbs. :)

I'm not familiar with any online courses for Navajo, sorry.

Hope to see you around after you're done moving! :wink:

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Re: Questions/Help

Postby księżycowy » 2011-06-05, 17:26

księżycowy wrote:I'm not familiar with any online courses for Navajo, sorry.

Wait! I remember there being a pdf textbook for Navajo you may wish to check out.
Navajo Basic Course, I'm not sure if that's want you're looking for as far as online resources. Unfortunately there's no audio.

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Questions/Help [Eskimo-Aleut languages]

Postby księżycowy » 2012-06-20, 12:20

Want to ask a question? Do you feel it's a small question not worthy of it's own individual thread? Then you've come to the right place!

Need to get some help of any kind, such as picking out a language, how to get resources, learning certain things, etc? Then, again, you've come to the right place!

Ask your minor questions and/or seek/give help here!

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Re: Learning Resources

Postby Lauren » 2012-09-05, 8:23

What do you guys think would be the easiest North American Indigenous language to learn, according to the amount of resources available for it?

My guesses would be Navajo, Cherokee, and Dakota, in no specific order.
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Re: Questions/Help

Postby księżycowy » 2012-09-05, 10:49

I suppose it would depend on what you consider "easy," what resources you'd want, and how far you'd want to get. But . . . .

For the three you mentioned, most of them have have some good textbooks and dictionaries. They also have collections of texts/traditional stories (with perhaps the exception of Cherokee).

But, on the hard side:
Navajo - very complex verbs, tones
Lakhota - tricky word order, odd verb formation
Cherokee - complex verbs, noun incorporation, syllabary
Most of those issues can be over come, but indigenous languages are still no walk in the park.

Though I'd also throw a few more in that have some great resources:
Cree, Oneida, Lushootseed. I could go on, but really I should let you pick. :P

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Re: Questions/Help

Postby Lauren » 2012-09-05, 19:33

księżycowy wrote:I suppose it would depend on what you consider "easy," what resources you'd want, and how far you'd want to get. But . . . .

For the three you mentioned, most of them have have some good textbooks and dictionaries. They also have collections of texts/traditional stories (with perhaps the exception of Cherokee).

But, on the hard side:
Navajo - very complex verbs, tones
Lakhota - tricky word order, odd verb formation
Cherokee - complex verbs, noun incorporation, syllabary
Most of those issues can be over come, but indigenous languages are still no walk in the park.

Though I'd also throw a few more in that have some great resources:
Cree, Oneida, Lushootseed. I could go on, but really I should let you pick. :P

Are there any books for Cherokee that mark tones? I have Beginning Cherokee by Ruth Bradley Holmes, which unfortunately doesn't, even though tones are extremely important...

I have the most resources for Navajo ("free" resources), but it seems to be the hardest. :P I have a textbook on Lushootseed, but I'm afraid that's not enough to learn it well. I've longed to be fluent in a NAIL, which is why I asked which has the most resources available. Right now I'm leaning towards either Lakota or Navajo.

But now I'm looking up resources for Oneida, and there seems to be quite enough free materials to learn it well, so I may consider that. :) I'm looking into Cree too.
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Re: Questions/Help

Postby księżycowy » 2012-09-05, 23:01

The one's that have a ton of stuff, that you could get to an advanced/fluent stage in would be: Oneida (due to tons of stories available online), Lushootseed and Lakota (due to excellent textbooks and readers, especially Lushootseed), and Cree (excellent textbooks).

For Navajo, you can get far, I'm just not too sure how far. Probably a pretty good stage, I just haven't fully explored Navajo. Especially after I found Apache and North Athabascan! :P

And as for resources that mark tones in Cherokee, I have no idea. I've seen a downloadable pdf of Cherokee grammar that marks tone, but that is about it. Not even the best dictionary for Cherokee marks tone, if I remember correctly.

Perfect timing too, if I may say so myself, the Powwow is coming up in about two months. :partyhat:
Personally I'm starting to fiddle around with Oneida.

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Re: Questions/Help

Postby Lauren » 2012-09-06, 5:36

So, Tlingit right now is the most interesting to me. I'm getting Beginning Tlingit from my library soon, which I'm excited for. :D I have quite a bit of materials for it.

It's either Tlingit or Navajo, I'm not sure yet.
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