Sequoyah's Cherokee Syllabary
July 15, 2004 5:07 AM   Subscribe

Sequoyah's Cherokee Syllabary
The history of a man who single-handedly invented a new and unique writing system which made the literacy rate of his nation shoot from 0% to 90% in just a few years.

Original source
posted by magullo (4 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
No discussion of Sequoyah is complete without mentioning the eponymous caverns.
posted by grabbingsand at 8:05 AM on July 15, 2004

It really looks like a cross between Tamil or Thai and a roman-based alphabet. Fascinating to the armchair linguist!

(PS if Guns, Germs and Steel left you wanting for more, try Pinker's Language Instinct.
posted by DenOfSizer at 8:26 AM on July 15, 2004

Cherokee is encoded in Unicode in the range u+13A0 - u+13FF. Here's a browser test page and a large Cherokee sample.

Another fun American writing system is Deseret, invented by the Latter Day Saints. Deseret is up in the ethereal planes of Unicode at u+10400 - u+1044f. It has some interesting Unicode history. There's a browser test there, too.
posted by Nelson at 1:26 PM on July 15, 2004

Thanks for the post. This is an absolutely incredible acheivement that most of us haven't heard enough about. Most Americans instantly think of the tree when they hear the name. There is some debate as to whether the two are related:
The genus is widely thought to be named for Sequoyah, also known as George Guess, inventor and publisher of the Cherokee alphabet. [Austrian naturalist Stephen] Endlicher was also a philologist, so he likely knew of Sequoyah's achievements. Unfortunately, Endlicher's writings give no clue to the etymology of Sequoia, and some very eminent botanists have proposed plausible alternatives. Asa Gray, for instance, thought it came from the Latin sequi, 'following', since it is the sole living representative of a sizable group of extinct plants.

posted by Treeline at 9:06 PM on July 15, 2004

« Older ClassicSciFiModels   |   The Shape of Song Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments