TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation Language Department is now utilizing two apps to provide Cherokee language lessons, Cherokee hymnals and a copy of the New Testament written in the Cherokee language.
The Cherokee Nation Language Department partnered with Memrise to add 20 Cherokee language lessons to the educational language application that can be downloaded on iOS and Android devices.
The free-to-use app, featuring a user-friendly interface and helpful video clips with the spoken dialects in action to help master real-world scenarios, now has nearly 1,000 Cherokee words and phrases that were added as content by the Cherokee Nation Language Department. More Cherokee lessons are being developed for future updates to the app.
“Memrise is among the most popular language apps with just over 60 million people using it as an easy and convenient way to learn almost any language they choose,” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “When the folks in our language department were made aware of this educational app, they made it a priority to have the Cherokee language added with the help of our translators. Like Deputy Chief Bryan Warner and I have said countless times before, the preservation and perpetuation of Cherokee language and culture is very important to us and a project we continue to prioritize.”
The Cherokee Nation Language Department is also unveiling the Cherokee Book of Praise app, which contains the Cherokee New Testament and a selection of over 100 Cherokee hymns in Cherokee syllabary and phonetics. It is available for iOS and is expected to be available for Android users to download in the Google Play Store in the coming months.
The Cherokee Book of Praise, currently limited to text-only content, will soon have audio recordings of the entire New Testament being read in Cherokee by Cherokee speaker Russell Feeling. Once the recordings are edited and added to the app, users will be able to read along with the New Testament in Cherokee syllabary or phonetics as Feeling reads aloud.
The Cherokee New Testament is the largest single volume of text written in Cherokee syllabary. Various translators have worked on the Cherokee New Testament roughly between 1824-1860 by translating various books of the New Testament piecemeal. In 1860, the American Bible Society compiled all of the translations into one single volume. For many Cherokees, regardless of religious beliefs, the Cherokee New Testament has been one of the most important books published in the Cherokee language, helping literacy in the Cherokee syllabary remain a part of many Cherokee families.
Similarly, the hymn book portion of the Cherokee Book of Praise app will soon include recordings of Cherokee singers. Other updates to the app include dynamic search functions and highlightable text to accompany read- and sing-alongs.
“We have an amazing team of Cherokee speakers who are committed heart and soul to providing Cherokee language lessons and translations, including hymns and the New Testament,” said Howard Paden, Cherokee Nation Language Department executive director. “The Cherokee language is intertwined with our identity as a people and I’ve said before that the revitalization of the Cherokee language must come from among the Cherokee people. Both of these projects – the Memrise app and the Cherokee Book of Praise – are even more ways we are perpetuating our beautiful language.”
For more information about the Cherokee Language Department as well as its resources and programs, visit https://language.cherokee.org/.