Pushmataha, The Greatest Miko (Chief) of the Choctaws

Chahta Anumpa
(The Choctaw Language)

The Choctaw Alphabet

Letters Names Sounds
A, a ah as a in father.
Ai, ai i a dipthong, as i in pine.
Au, au ow a dipthong, as ow in now.
B, b be as in English.
Ch, ch che as in church.
E, e a as a in made; as e in they.
F, f fe as in English.
H, h he as in English.
Hl, hl thle aspirated before a consonant; written lh, thle, also.
I, i e as i in pique and in pit.
K, k ke as in English.
L, l le as in English.
M, m me as in English.
N, n ne as in English.
O, o o as o in note.
P, p pe as in English.
S, s se as in sir; never as "s" in his.
Sh, sh she as in shall.
T, t te as in English.
U, u oo as oo in wool, or u in full.
V, v uh as u in tub
W, w we as in war, we.
Y, y ye as in you.

A , a , I , i , O , o , U , u

These are pure nasals, and retain the vowel sounds, except before the letter "k," in which case they are like the long ang, ing, ong, ung. The usual sound is softer than ang, and like that of the french vowel followed by "n" in the same syllable. (Byington XI)


Let it be remembered that each consonant has but one sound and that the sounds ascribed to the vowels are such as they have, respectively in accented syllables; in unaccented syllables they have the sound of short vowels. English readers should remember not to give the English sound to the vowels, except as noted in the alphabet.

a, i , o , and u , or some of them are used as seperate words or final syllables. They are used also before the consonants and semivowels, b, f, h, k, m, n, s, sh, w, and y. Before the consonant p, sometimes before b and the vowels, for the sake of euphony the letter m is added, or the nasal sound becomes m of necessity from the position of the organs of speech at that time, as am, im, om, um.

Before ch, l, t, and hl, the letter n is added, as an, in, on, un, and before the vowels in many words the letter n is added to the nasal. a is never used; a is used in its place. The vowel "e" is never used as a nasal, i being used in its place.

In making these remarks general rules are stated. It is not to be supposed that each and all of the nasal are thus used. There are exceptions, which the student must be ready to notice. An unwritten language has its anomalies and irregularities. (Byington XI)

Nanih Waiya (Leaning Mound), Mother of the Choctaw People

Today there are about 9,000 speakers of the Choctaw Language, with three-fourths of those speakers residing in south-eastern Oklahoma and the other fourth residing on the Pearl River Indian Reservation in Central Mississippi.

The Choctaw Language belongs to the Muskogean Family, with the Chickasaw langauge being the closest related to it.

Rev. & Mrs. Cyrus Byington

The Choctaw Language was only an oral, or spoken, language until Cyrus Byington's tedious efforts to make it a written language. After nearly fifty years of missionary service among the Choctaws, Rev. Cyrus Byington compiled "A Dictionary of the Choctaw Language." When originally wrote, it consisted of "...five paper bound folio volumes, having entries on both sides of the leaves..." (Byington VII). He also, translated serveral books of the Old and New Testament, Choctaw Almanacs; a Choctaw Definer, a grammar of the Choctaw Language, and some minor writings.

Animal Terms
Color Terms
Family Terms
Food Terms
Gardening Terms
Agent Markers
Choctaw Stories
Weather Terms
Predicative Nouns


Byington, Cyrus, John R. Swanton & Henry S. Halbert, Ed., " A Dictionary of the Choctaw Language ," 2001. Global Bible Society: Asheville, NC.

Page Last Modified: 15 Mar 2008