Chahta Anumpa: Brief Numbers Lesson

Choctaw: [Chah-ta] [pronounced CHOCK-tah]

One (1): Achafa [v-ch’ vf-fv]

Two (2): Tuklo [tuk-lu]

Three (3): Tuchina [túch-che-nv]

Four (4): Ushta [ush-tv]

Five (5): Talapi [tálh-lha-pi]

Six (6): Hannali [h’vn-na-li]

Seven (7): Untuklo [ o-túk-lu]

Eight (8): Untuchina [ o-túch-che-nv]

Nine (9): Chakkali [chák-ka-li]

Ten (10): Pokoli [pók-ko-li]

Vowels & distinctions of the Choctaw Language:

The three Choctaw vowels may be described as [a], [i], & [oo] or nasal [ã], [i with ~ – ie: like the ã sorry, no symbol available], & [o with ~ – ie: like the ã, sorry, no symbol available]. The Choctaw short [a] may be written with the Greek letter upsilon, v; with a script v, v; or even with the letter v. It is pronounced rather like the vowels in English hut; love. It is never pronounced like the sound in the English word moon. Because the standard Choctaw orthography was developed by a white missionary, final short [a] is spelled not with v, but with a, reflecting the English spelling convention of writing final schwa sounds (which sound very much like Choctaw short [a]) with the letter a. Additionally, initial short [a] is often spelled a (ie: all the vowels in achvffa are short [a], even though they are spelled in both v and a.)

Long [i] is spelled: e (ie: tuchena [tuch-che-nv] = ‘three’

Short [o] is generally spelled u but is never pronounced like the English vowel u, as in duty or cute. As is the case for short [a], some short [o] sounds appear at the end of a word, but because of interference from English spelling conventions, short [o] is almost never spelled u when it appears at the end of a word; it is nearly always spelled o. Tuklo has two short [o] vowels, but the final one is spelled o.


Rhythmic lengthening: iti achvffa (one tree: iti=tree; achvffa=one): the first three syllables are light. This environment causes the second syllable of iti to be lengthed: iti achvffa → i-tii-a-chvf-fa. Note: In sentence structure, verb is placed before the noun.

However, if a string of light syllables is interrupted by a heavy syllable or if the phrase ends, there is no rhythmic lengthening. For example, iti tuklo (two trees: iti=tree; tuklo=two) does not trigger rhythmic lengthening in the second syllable of iti: iti tuklo → i-ti-tuk-lo.

Note: An accented syllable receives a higher pitch than the other syllables. If there is no accented syllable, the word is pronounced with even stress on each syllable.

Reference: Choctaw Language & Culture – Chahta Anumpa by Marcia Haag and Henry Willis, University of Oklahoma Press: Norman;; Cover Illustration by Cheryl Davis © 2001; ISBN 0-8061-3339-2


Published in: on March 28, 2008 at 5:48 am  Leave a Comment