The Native American languages * Native Americans * American Indian heritage

Native American alphabets

Q: Do any of the Native American tribes have their own alphabet that is written differently to the one we use for English? I have noticed that all translations are done using the standard Western alphabet.

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A: Yes, most Native American languages, which were traditionally unwritten, today use a modified form of the Latin alphabet (with a few extra characters for sounds that don't exist in English, French or Spanish.) The only three indigenous American languages that frequently use a different writing system are Cherokee, Cree and Inuktitut, all of whom use syllabaries (with one character per syllable.) A few other languages, such as Ojibway, Blackfoot, and Carrier, also have syllabaries but they are rarely used. Several Central American languages had ancient hieroglyphic writing systems but those have not been used in centuries. And pictographs were used in many tribes before colonization, but those are not related to the languages (i.e. draw a man to represent a man, draw a fire to represent a fire, etc.)

Hope that helps, have a good day!
Native Languages of the Americas

Related Links

 Cherokee syllabary
 Blackfoot syllabary
 Cree language
 Indian language translations



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