Choctaw is a Western Muskogean language closely related to Chickasaw. In 2015 there were about 9,600 speakers of Choctaw, mainly on the Choctaw Nation in southeastern Oklahoma. The Mississippi Choctaw of Oklahoma in south central Oklahoma speak a different dialect of Choctaw. Another dialect of Choctaw is spoken near Philadelphia in Mississippi by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. There are also a few Choctaw speakers in Florida, Louisiana, Texas and California. The name Oklahoma comes from a Choctaw word meaning "red people".
The majority of Choctaw speakers are over 45. In Mississippi efforts are being made to pass the language on to the younger generation and some children are being raised with Choctaw as their first language.
Choctaw was first written in the early 19th century with a version of the Latin alphabet developed by Cyrus Byington, who spent 50 years translating the Bible into Choctaw. A revised alphabet was developed by Cyrus Byington and John Swanton for the Choctaw Language Dictionary, which was published in 1909. Another spelling system is currently used by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. There are a number of other ways to write Choctaw.
Hattak yuka keyu hokʊtto yakohmit itibachʊfat hieli kʊt, nan isht imaiʊlhpiesa atokmʊt itilawashke; yohmi ha hattak nana hohkia, keyukmʊt kanohmi hohkia okla moma nana isht aim aiʊlhpiesa, micha isht aimaiʊlhtoba he aima ka kanohmi bano hosh isht ik imaiʊlhpieso kashke. Amba moma kʊt nana isht imachukma chi ho tuksʊli hokmakashke.
(Atikel I, Aiʊlhepiesa Makosh Ʊlhpisa)
That all free men, when they form a special compact, are equal in rights, and that no man or set of men are entitled to exclusive, separate public emolument or privileges from the community, but in consideration of public services.
(Article I Choctaw Declaration of Rights)
The information on this page was provided by Daniel Lapinski
Information about the Choctaw language and people
A Dictionary of the Choctaw language
Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma (offical site)
Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians
Page last modified: 23.04.21
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