Apisa Achuffa

"Lesson One"
Charley Jones

As you know, many languages have regional dialects, such as Cantonese Chinese and Mandarin Chinese. Here in America, regional dialects are abundantly available; northeast, southeast, deep south, central, northwest, southwest, west. People raised in Boston, Massachusetts speak a different dialect than those raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma and both different dialects than spoken by those raised in Los Angeles, California. Nonetheless, we have little difficulty understanding each other, with some odd exceptions, such as the beautiful "dragonfly" in the West, "snake doctor" in the Southwest and "mosquito hawk" in the South. I am unfamiliar with a word or words in Chahta for "dragonfly" with my best translation being shushi "bug" or lanla "a kind of bug."

On "things" which have no literal translation in Chahta, such as "dragonfly," you will discover as you read through these lessons, Chahta Okla "Choctaw Peoples" have simply beautiful and highly logical phrases to describe "things" such as objects, living creatures, direction and especially all things belonging to the realm of Mother Nature. Chahta is actually more descriptive, more precise and makes more sense than the Queen's Proper English. More on this later, especially in my section on how American Indian names are selected and why these names change with time or events in a person's life.

These regional dialects hold true for almost all languages, including Chahta. Dialects come about by thousands of years of geographic separation by distance, of once common tongued peoples.

Chahta displays a number of dialects with two primary regional dialects, Longtown and Sixtowns. Our anumpa isht hika "speaker" Charley Jones, makes use of Sixtowns dialect which is close enough in sound, to be understood by Longtown dialect speakers. These lessons you enjoy, mix both Longtown and Sixtowns dialect words.

Chahta, unlike English, makes use of only pokoli tuklo akocha achuffa "twenty-one" letters and, equally unlike English, Chahta uses tuchina "three" combinations of holisso "letters" as part of the Chahta alphabet.

A technical note is needed. I mentioned using Byington's "A Dictionary Of The Choctaw Language" as an invaluable source of information, specifically Choctaw words. After Byington passed away, Dr. John R. Swanton edited Byington's manuscripts, notes and dictionary entries. Swanton made some serious errors because he held very little experience with Choctaw language, and less experience editing dictionaries. Swanton, not understanding much about Byington's spelling rules for Choctaw, changed many of Byington's entries, erroneously. You will discover spelling in Byington's dictionary, because of Swanton, has changed from original correct spelling. The letter "v" is now a rather odd "a" with a tiny dot beneath it. There are no fonts available to display this special character. I am doing my best to catch these mistakes and insert "v" where it should be, but I am sure I have not caught all mistakes; this is bound to happen.

Another problem introduce by Swanton, is substituting an odd "bar t" for "hl" in Choctaw spelling. As with "v" I am working at correcting this mistake. Again, I doubt I will catch all mistakes.

Compounding Swanton's errors, is Byington's wonderful dictionary has been in use since 1909 and is the only Choctaw - English dictionary. Few are aware of these mistakes leading to a broad belief Swanton's misspelled words are actually spelled correctly. Never forget this should you elect to pick up a copy of Byington's Choctaw dictionary, and it is the only Choctaw dictionary available.

Ok, time for you to jump right into Chahta Anumpa   "Choctaw language."

Enunication Of Common Basic Sounds, Case Insensitive:

a   - father, sofa      ch   - church, chuck      e   - they, weigh      i   - pit, wit
o   - knot, robot      sh   - shall, shirt      u   - artful, careful      w   - we, weigh

Enunication Of Letter S  :

The holisso   "letter" S is strictly enuniciated with the same sound as a shakbatina "wild cat" makes when hissing. Chahta holisso "S" or "s" never has a typical English sound of "z" as a asananta timihachi "bumble bee buzzes."

s   - sir   sire   stir
Never "s" as with his   is   'tis

Enunication Of Aspirated HL  :

In all languages, there are aspirated sounds which we form unconciously. Aspirated sounds are created when we ilafiopa "draw breath in" during vocalization. This drawing in of breath is virtually unnoticable and only becomes so, when we pay attention to our physical act of aspirating certain sounds in language. In Chahta, HL - hl   is a special ilafiopa sound, being aspirated as is a trailing letter "L" in words with a trailing double "LL" in English.

hl   - bell   dell   fell

Enunication Of Nasalized Vowels:

Using a ibbak ishki "thumb" and a ibbak ushi "finger" pinch your nose shut then say "nasal." This is a highly nasalized sound. Within following lessons, vowels to be nasalized will be underlined. Vowels which are sometimes, but not always, nasalized are a, i, o and u. These vowels are nasalized only slightly, very softly, just a hint to impart special meaning.

When one of these vowels appears before the holisso k  "letter k" the vowel should have hard nasalization. Examples of how much nasalization should be used would be the Enlish anumpa "word" angry, nasalized "ang" or the English anumpa "running" with a nasalized "ing" at the end.

These basic grammar rules you have just read, are just that; basic. There are exceptions, there are other rules which apply. What you have learned so far, is a good general guideline and you should keep in mind, there will be exceptions to these basic rules as there are in any language.

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