Siyo nigadagwu; Ben Frey dagwado’a yonega gv’di, ale Tuya Digvtsatlanvhi anoseho giduwagi gv’di. Hello, my name is Ben Frey as they say in English, or Tuya Digvtsatlanvhi is what they say in Cherokee.
One of the things that makes Cherokee different from English is the way it handles talking about relationships versus talking about possessions. So, in English you could say “my mother” just the same as you’d say “my apple”, right? It’s as if they’re both possessions or things that you can own. Versus in Cherokee, there are two totally different ways of saying those things. For one you’d use a possessive, so svg’ta, apple; agwatseli’I, mine or it’s my possession. Versus in Cherokee if you’re talking about someone who’s related to you, if it’s a family member like “my mother” it would be just agitsi, my mother. But it really means more like there is a third person in the world that has this relationship of mother toward me. So, everything gets talked about in terms of relationships.
There’s also this tendency in Cherokee to offer a caveat that you don’t know as an individual what the whole picture is. There’s this word elisdi. It’s linked to the verb root for “to think,” so geli’a, I think, or it is my opinion that something. So when you say elisdi, it’s almost like saying it’s conceivable but always with the caveat that I don’t have perfect knowledge about the situation.
In English it’s almost like they encourage you to never make that caveat. You’re always supposed to speak with total certainty, and I don’t think anybody really has total certainty over much of anything really. Somebody else’s actions, somebody else’s thoughts, somebody else’s intentions, you don’t know what they were. And really unless they tell you directly and you’re in relationship with them you can’t know. So, it’s that dual focus on I don’t have the whole picture and the only way I’m gonna get the whole picture or close to the whole picture is if I’m in relationship with other people. So, I have to be in relationship with everybody in order to get the picture of what we as human beings understand.