Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

April 15, 2013

Languages thrive through sharing

TAHLEQUAH — A Cherokee-speaking jistu, rabbit, learned his lesson about stealing water on Friday in NSU’s Morgan Room as part of the 41st Annual Symposium on the American Indian.

The rabbit and his animal companions were part of a puppet show performed entirely in Cherokee by students from Wyman Kirk’s Cherokee language class at NSU, along with a few volunteers from the community.

This is the third year the play has been performed at the Symposium.

“It’s an adaptation of an old Cherokee story, the story of the rabbit and the well,” said Kirk. “This version is the product of a translation by a Cherokee class. They took the story and back-translated it into Cherokee, and the lines you hear are based on modifying it to turn it from a story into a play.”

Although many audience members were not Cherokee speakers, laughter broke out at all the right places – like when “kanuna,” a bullfrog, announced several times that he’d like to body-slam the rabbit, who kept insisting he wasn’t the one stealing water when everyone knew he was lying.

Kirk said one reason people could laugh was because of the story, but another was the audience interaction that takes place with any live entertainment.

“I think part of the reason people knew to laugh was because of the visual aspect, and it’s also because the story itself does have places where you really wouldn’t have to understand what’s going on to appreciate it,” he said. “But in this case, the actors got a case of the giggles, and it seems to be infectious, and that started the audience as well, so when those lines came up again, it was almost a cue for the audience.”

Even mistakes added to the hilarity.

“Especially in a script like this, people know the lines, but because they are a little nervous, things get mispronounced, and in a language that has tonal qualities like Cherokee, you get a lot of misstatements that are funny,” he said.

But human nature isn’t the only reason the play was funny for audience members who speak Cherokee or even understand only a little. Kirk said the language’s structure lends itself to certain kinds of humor.

“The Cherokee language, because of its diversity, is such a different language than English,” he said. “We have lots of different ways to express ideas. There are classification forms that determine what you’re talking about based on the shape of the object. The verb system is just much more rich. Three-fourths of the language is verbs, as opposed to a quarter of the language in English. Because of that, when expressing ideas, you can really make a lot of different puns, and you can make puns on many different levels.”

And even the humor of Cherokee has changed with time.

“There are native Cherokee puns, but then in the past 50 years, a lot of people make English-Cherokee puns, so they’ll say something in Cherokee that’s a pun of English but sounds stupid in Cherokee, but that’s why it’s funny,” said Kirk. “I think Cherokee gives you the opportunity to really branch out and express things humorously.”

Zachary Barnes, who read the part of the bullfrog, said there is a serious reason for putting on a funny play.

“It’s good to expand the use of the language,” he said. “Kids will see it and want to watch it. Last year, we did the play for the Cherokee Immersion School, and they really liked it. Just as long as you can keep understanding and using the language, it really helps.”

At the end of the play, jistu learned that water should be shared with everyone – just like language, if it is going to continue to thrive. This play was one way of doing just that.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • sr-NSU-Earth-day.jpg NSU students observe Earth Day

    Students and members of the community converged on Northeastern State University’s Second Century Square on Tuesday to spend an afternoon celebrating Earth Day.
    The event featured tables sponsored by campus organizations, prizes and music by Chris Espinoza. NSU’s Earth Day theme was “Gather Here. Go Green,” and was organized by the Committee for Sustainability and the Northeastern Student Government Association (NSGA).

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • ts-smallholders-courtesy.jpg Rural smallholders host annual show

    More and more, many people are showing growing interest in learning the sources of their food, including meat. As such, interest in farm-to-table living is increasing.
    Saturday, the Rural Smallholders Association held its annual spring show at the Cherokee County Fairgrounds, promoting the farming of sheep and goats, along with giving the general public a sample of their products.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • pitts-hurley.jpg Wanted man nabbed during traffic stop

    Cherokee County sheriff’s deputies arrested a wanted man this week after a traffic stop near South Muskogee and Willis Road.
    Hurley D. Pitts, 40, was being sought by authorities on a motion to revoke a previous sentence.
    Sheriff’s Deputy Jarrick Snyder said he stopped a car after it ran off the road a couple of times. A woman was behind the wheel, and Pitts was sitting in the passenger seat.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • SR-Wikafile.jpg Communiversity Band performs Sunday

    Musicians from on and off the Northeastern State University campus have made their final preparations for an upcoming performance of the NSU Communiversity Band.
    The ensemble performs Sunday, April 27, at 7 p.m., in the NSU Center for the Performing Arts. The conductor is Dr. Norman Wika, associate professor of music and band program director. Guest conductor is student Kameron Parmain. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students and seniors.
    “Everything has come together very well this semester,” Wika said.
    “We have about 40 musicians, and everyone who started the rehearsals has stuck with it. This could be the best Community Band concert yet.”

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Council concerned over reports of land contamination

    Negotiations involving the purchase of nearly 20 homes on 7 acres of land near Basin Avenue hit a snag Monday night when concerns surfaced over potential contamination of the area.
    Tahlequah Mayor Jason Nichols had proposed the city purchase the homes and duplexes as a large step in a greenbelt project, which would establish a solid park and trail system from the downtown area to the site of the city’s old solid waste transfer station.
    Until Monday, details of the negotiations had been mostly discussed behind closed doors, though Nichols confirmed the list price for the property to be $480,000.

    April 23, 2014

  • Council tables cell tower permit apps

    Tahlequah city councilors on Monday opted to hold off on approval of two special-use permit applications that would help AT&T install a couple of 150-foot cell towers within the city.
    Branch Communications is asking for the permits as it attempts to construct two monopole cell towers – one on Commercial Road near Green Country Funeral Home, and another at the Tahlequah Public Schools bus barn on Pendleton Street. Other towers are being built outside of the city limits.
    Members of the city’s planning and zoning board gave their OK for both permits last month.

    April 23, 2014

  • SR-WalkaMile1.jpg Walk a Mile 2014

    Men squeezed into feminine footwear Saturday by the hundreds to walk in solidarity with women on the issue of sexual violence – and their clop-clop-clopping echoed down Muskogee Avenue.
    The fourth annual “Walk a Mile In Her Shoes” brought men to Norris Park, accompanied by their enthusiastic female supporters, to walk – and often wobble – in high heels over a mile-long course to raise funds for Help-In-Crisis.
    “It hurts every year,” said John Christie, a Sequoyah High School student participating in his third Walk a Mile. “I get home, sit down, blisters come up and the calves hurt. But it is worth it. It’s for a good cause.”

    April 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • adams-christopher.jpg Michigan man gets 13 years on plea to rape, sodomy of girl

    A 28-year-old Michigan man will spend about 13 years in an Oklahoma state prison after pleading guilty to four counts of first-degree rape and one count of sodomy involving a 13-year-old girl.
    Christopher Dale Adams, of Lake Orion, Mich., received a 13-year prison sentence for each of the five charges, to be followed by seven years suspended. All sentences will run concurrently.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • logan-amy.jpg Police take down pair on pot distribution charge

    Tahlequah police officers arrested a pair Sunday night for allegedly possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute it.
    Tahlequah Officer Cody Warren said police were asked to investigate when 35-year-old Amy N. Logan, of Tahlequah, allegedly took a family member’s car without permission.
    While Warren was speaking with the owners of the vehicle, Logan arrived along with 26-year-old Theoplilus James Mollie, of Tulsa.

    April 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • land-lisa.jpg Two nailed with meth, pot hidden in bag of chips

    Two people were arrested early Monday morning when Tahlequah police stopped a vehicle near Basin Avenue and found methamphetamine and marijuana hidden in a bag of chips.
    Tahlequah Officer Cory Keele said he noticed a Nissan heading north on Park Hill Road, and the vehicle later stopped in an intersection.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

How confident are you that the immunizations for infants and children are reasonably safe?

Not at all confident.
Somewhat confident.
Relatively confident.
Extremely confident.
undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
SKorea Ferry Toll Hits 156, Search Gets Tougher Video Shows Possible Syrian Gas Attack Cubs Superfans Celebrate Wrigley's 100th Raw: Cattle Truck Overturns in Texas Admirers Flock to Dole During Kansas Homecoming Raw: Erupting Volcanoes in Guatemala and Peru Alibaba IPO Could Be Largest Ever for Tech Firm FBI Joining Probe of Suburban NY 'Swatting' Call U.S. Paratroopers in Poland, Amid Ukraine Crisis US Reviews Clemency for Certain Inmates Raw: Violence Erupts in Rio Near Olympic Venue Raw: Deadly Bombing in Egypt Raw: What's Inside a Commercial Jet Wheel Well Raw: Obama Arrives in Japan for State Visit Raw: Anti-Obama Activists Fight Manila Police Motels Near Disney Fighting Homeless Problem Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye' S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers
Stocks