Counting in Cherokee
Cherokee (ᏣᎳᎩ, transliterated as tsalagi) is an Iroquoian language written with a unique syllabary writing system devised by Sequoyah in 1819. It is nowadays spoken by about 20,000 people.
Due to lack of data, we can only count accurately up to 999,999 in Cherokee. Please contact me if you can help me counting up from that limit.
Cherokee numbers list
- 1 – ᏐᏬ (sowo)
- 2 – ᏔᎵ (tali)
- 3 – ᏦᎢ (tsoi)
- 4 – ᏅᎩ (nvgi)
- 5 – ᎯᏍᎩ (hisgi)
- 6 – ᏑᏓᎵ (sudali)
- 7 – ᎦᎵᏉᎩ (galiquogi)
- 8 – ᏧᏁᎳ (tsunela)
- 9 – ᏐᏁᎳ (sonela)
- 10 – ᏍᎪᎯ (sgohi)
- 11 – ᏌᏚ (sadu)
- 12 – ᏔᎵᏚ (talidu)
- 13 – ᏦᎦᏚ (tsogadu)
- 14 – ᏂᎦᏚ (nigadu)
- 15 – ᎯᏍᎦᏚ (hisgadu)
- 16 – ᏓᎳᏚ (daladu)
- 17 – ᎦᎵᏆᏚ (galiquadu)
- 18 – ᏁᎳᏚ (neladu)
- 19 – ᏐᏁᎳᏚ (soneladu)
- 20 – ᏔᎵᏍᎪᎯ (talisgohi)
- 30 – ᏦᎢᏍᎪᎯ (tsoisgohi)
- 40 – ᏅᎩᏍᎪᎯ (nvgisgohi)
- 50 – ᎯᏍᎩᏍᎪᎯ (hisgisgohi)
- 60 – ᏑᏓᎵᏍᎪᎯ (sudalisgohi)
- 70 – ᎦᎵᏆᏍᎪᎯ (galiquasgohi)
- 80 – ᏧᏁᎳᏍᎪᎯ (tsunelasgohi)
- 90 – ᏐᏁᎳᏍᎪᎯ (sonelasgohi)
- 100 – ᏍᎪᎯᏥᏆ (sgohitsiqua)
- 1,000 – ᏐᏬ ᎢᏯᎦᏴᎵ (sowo iyagayvli)
The Cherokee council voted not to adopt the numeric characters Sequoyah designed in his syllabary writing system, but the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma, still possess in its collections the original characters.
Cherokee numbering rules
Now that you’ve had a gist of the most useful numbers, let’s move to the writing rules for the tens, the compound numbers, and why not the hundreds, the thousands and beyond (if possible).
- Numbers from zero to ten are specific words, namely Ꮭ ᎪᏍᏗ (tla gosdi)  (meaning nothing), ᏐᏬ (sowo) , ᏔᎵ (tali) , ᏦᎢ (tsoi) , ᏅᎩ (nvgi) , ᎯᏍᎩ (hisgi) , ᏑᏓᎵ (sudali) , ᎦᎵᏉᎩ (galiquogi) , ᏧᏁᎳ (tsunela) , ᏐᏁᎳ (sonela) , and ᏍᎪᎯ (sgohi) .
- From eleven to nineteen, numbers are built by adding the suffix -Ꮪ (-du) after the unit which can slightly change phonetically: ᏌᏚ (sadu) , ᏔᎵᏚ (talidu) , ᏦᎦᏚ (tsogadu) , ᏂᎦᏚ (nigadu) , ᎯᏍᎦᏚ (hisgadu) , ᏓᎳᏚ (daladu) , ᎦᎵᏆᏚ (galiquadu) , ᏁᎳᏚ (neladu) , and ᏐᏁᎳᏚ (soneladu) .
- The tens are formed by adding the suffix -ᎪᎯ (-gohi) at the end of the matching digit: ᏍᎪᎯ (sgohi) , ᏔᎵᏍᎪᎯ (talisgohi) , ᏦᎢᏍᎪᎯ (tsoisgohi) , ᏅᎩᏍᎪᎯ (nvgisgohi) , ᎯᏍᎩᏍᎪᎯ (hisgisgohi) , ᏑᏓᎵᏍᎪᎯ (sudalisgohi) , ᎦᎵᏆᏍᎪᎯ (galiquasgohi) , ᏧᏁᎳᏍᎪᎯ (tsunelasgohi) , and ᏐᏁᎳᏍᎪᎯ (sonelasgohi) .
- From twenty-one to ninety-nine, the numbers are made by saying the ten with its last syllable (-Ꭿ, -hi) removed, then the unit (e.g.: ᏔᎵᏍᎪ ᏦᎢ (talisgo tsoi) , ᎦᎵᏆᏍᎪ ᏑᏓᎵ (galiquasgo sudali) ). When composed with a ten, the digit one changes from ᏐᏬ (sowo) to ᏌᏬ (sawo) (e.g.: ᏦᎢᏍᎪ ᏌᏬ (tsoisgo sawo)  and not ᏦᎢᏍᎪ ᏐᏬ (tsoisgo sowo)).
- One hundred is said ᏍᎪᎯᏥᏆ (sgohitsiqua). The other hundreds are made by setting the multiplier root before the one hundred word with no space: ᏔᎵᏍᎪᎯᏥᏆ (talisgohitsiqua) , ᏦᏍᎪᎯᏥᏆ (tsosgohitsiqua) , ᏅᎩᏍᎪᎯᏥᏆ (nvgisgohitsiqua) , ᎯᏍᎩᏍᎪᎯᏥᏆ (hisgisgohitsiqua) , ᏑᏓᎵᏍᎪᎯᏥᏆ (sudalisgohitsiqua) , ᎦᎵᏆᏍᎪᎯᏥᏆ (galiquasgohitsiqua) , ᏧᏁᎵᏍᎪᎯᏥᏆ (tsunelisgohitsiqua) , and ᏐᏁᎵᏍᎪᎯᏥᏆ (sonelisgohitsiqua) .
- The word for thousand is ᎢᏯᎦᏴᎵ (iyagayvli). The thousands are built by writing the multiplier before the thousand word, exactly as in English (e.g.: ᏐᏬ ᎢᏯᎦᏴᎵ (sowo iyagayvli) [1,000], ᏔᎵ ᎢᏯᎦᏴᎵ (tali iyagayvli) [2,000], ᏦᎢ ᎢᏯᎦᏴᎵ (tsoi iyagayvli) [3,000]).
Write a number in full in Cherokee
Let’s move now to the practice of the numbering rules in Cherokee. Will you guess how to write a number in full? Enter a number and try to write it down in your head, or maybe on a piece of paper, before displaying the result.
Cherokee Language Lessons
by Michael Joyner, editors lulu.com (2014)
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Signs of Cherokee Culture: Sequoyah’s Syllabary in Eastern Cherokee Life
by Margaret Bender, editors The University of North Carolina Press (2007)
Sequoyah: The Cherokee Man Who Gave His People Writing
by James Rumford, editors Houghton Mifflin Books for Children (2004)
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by Ruth Bradley Holmes, Betty Sharp Smith, editors University of Oklahoma Press (1992)
Other supported languages
As the other currently supported languages are too numerous to list extensively here, please select a language from the full list of supported languages.