Cherokee Grammar & Syntax

Cherokee Pronoun Prefixes Part II

Now, we get into the fun part, complex pronouns.

Unlike European languages, Cherokee has pronouns that specify who did what to whom. They are bi-lateral, in that one single pronoun describes how A did what to B and how B did what to A. This simplifies things greatly by not having a need for different grammtical cases.

In English we would say:
I spoke to him. (I did something to him)
He looked at me. (he did something to me)
We listened to them. (we did something to them)
They saw me. (they did something to me)

These, who did what to whom, actions would be described via a single pronoun prefix in Cherokee depending on who initiated the action in whose direction. Understanding subject object relationship clearly, that is the direction of the action from who to whom, is very important when choosing the correct Cherokee pronoun prefix.

So when when we look at the word ᏍᏆᏍᎪᎳᏓᏏ sgwa-sgoldasi "let me" you can see the pronoun here is sgwa- which is the B Class pronoun for "you do something to me". In other words, "you (singular) let me", versus "they let me" or "you (plural) let me", these would be different pronoun prefixes all together.

ᏍᏆᏛᏓᎲᎦ sgwa-tvdahvga - you ask me something.
ᏍᏆᏁᏝᏅ sgwa-nehlanv - you are my creator, you created me.

Some words you may already know, which are using "sgi-", the A Class form of the same pronoun as "sgwa-", you do something to me.

ᏍᎩᏍᏕᎳ sgi-sdela - you help me (sgi- A class you do it to me)
ᏍᎩᏃᎯᏏ sgi-nohisi - you tell me
ᏍᎩᏙᎵᎨ sgi-dolige - you forgive me, "I'm sorry" (I am asking for you to pardon me, you do it to me.)

More on sgi-

Now, let's reverse the direction of who does what to whom. In the following verb forms ᎬᏍᏕᎳ "gvsdela", ᎬᏃᎯᏏ "gvnohisi", and ᎬᏯᏓᏪᏙᎥᏍᎦ "gvyadawedo'vsga", the pronoun prefix here is "Ꭼ" gv- which means "I do something to you".

Let's not be concerned with tense, we need first to see the prefixes.

gv- I am doing something to you

ᎬᏍᏕᎳ gv-sdela - I help you. (compare with sgisdela, you help me.)
ᎬᏃᎯᏏ gv-nohisi - I tell you. (compare with sginohisi, you tell me.)
ᎬᏙᎵᎨ gv-dolige - I pardon you. (compare with sgidolige, you pardon me.)
ᎬᏯᏓᏪᏙᎥᏍᎦ gv-yadawedo'vsga - I am kissing you. (compare with sgiyadawedo'vsga, you are kissing me.)

More on gv-

This is only a scratch on the surface of pronoun prefixes. Once you begin to learn how to read the pronoun prefixes it will start to make a lot of things clearer in the areas of; what is going on between whom and who is doing what to whom.

The pronoun prefix is one of the most important and complex aspects of Cherokee verbs and they cannot be overlooked!