Published on August 31, 2014 by Amy
The Chickasaw people are native to the southeastern part of the United States, especially the areas of Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Missouri and Kentucky. It is mainly the older Chickasaws who speak the Chickasaw language, as much of the population has transitioned to speaking English over the years. At publication time, there are as few as 120 Chickasaws currently speaking the language. The Chickasaw language is similar to the Choctaw language, so speakers of either language can usually understand one another easily. The language is rhythmic and oral, meaning that it is not written down and is learned by being passed down through generations.
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1. Learn Chickasaw words and phrases to speak the language. You can do this by reading books on the language such as the “Chickasaw Dictionary,” listening to Chickasaw CDs or DVDs, or using an Internet language learning program such as is available though Native Languages. The Chickasaw people are currently introducing a revitalization program for the language and offer self-study materials through the Chickasaw Nation.
2. Learn some basic greetings in Chickasaw. A basic friendly Chickasaw greeting is “chokma,” which is pronounced choke-mah. “Ayali,” pronounced ah-yah-lee, means goodbye.
3. Read through the “Chickasaw Dictionary” and “Chickasaw: An Analytical Dictionary” to learn more words and phrases to speak. These dictionaries have pronunciations as well as words so that you know how to say them correctly. In fact, since the language is not a written one, the words look the way that they sound.
4. Practice speaking with Chickasaws in your area. Contact the Chickasaw Nation directly to see what language revitalization programs are currently available. Practicing with those who know the language is the best way to have the opportunity to speak it regularly. The Chickasaw Nation offers language learning clubs and camps for those interested.
5. Contact the Chickasaw Nation about their Master-Apprentice program in the language. This program matches those who know the language with those interested in learning it.
6. Speak in your everyday life the new words and phrases that you learn. It is important to practice language as much as possible to fully remember it.