How Cheyenne and English can differ

Every language is beautiful and every language differs from every other language. Sometimes Cheyennes say, "Cheyenne says things backwards from English." But the truth is that neither language is backwards from the other one. Both languages express things in ways that are correct for that language.

Here are some examples that show interesting differences between English and Cheyenne:

  English: 1 word
  Cheyenne: 2 words
    mane 'he drank (generic word, usually a cold drink)'
    nomene 'he drank (something heated, as coffee, soup, tea')

  English: 1 word
  Cheyenne: 2 words
    nhtsstovho 'He asked him (a question).'
    vestomevho 'He asked him for something.'

  English: 1 word
  Cheyenne: 2 words
    nse'neva 'He hunted for small game (rabbits, birds, etc.).'
    mhne 'He hunted (for bigger game, such as deer.).'

  English: 1 word
  Cheyenne: 2 words
    ametanne 'He is living; he is alive.' (biological life)
    vo'stanheve 'He is living.' (refers more to social life, a way of living)

  English: 2 words
  Cheyenne: 1 word covers both: e.g. ahtovho 'He listened to/obeyed him.'

  English: forgive
  Cheyenne: no single equivalent word; several words cover the meaning:
    vaa'xaoto 'He shook hands with him again.'
    vananvhtseo'o 'They recognized each other again.'
    nvonetan'ta 'I have forgotten about it.'

  English: 2 different words
  Cheyenne: same word used for both, mene 

  English: these are different words
  Cheyenne: same word used for any of these transfers of goods, 

monomial (single word) vs. polynomials (multiple words or compounds)
  English: old man
  Cheyenne: ma'hhkso

  English: old woman
  Cheyenne: mhtamhhe

  English: young woman
  Cheyenne: kse'he

  English: young man
  Cheyenne: ksovhe

  English: boy
  Cheyenne: hetan-ka'kne (lit. man-child)

  English: girl
  Cheyenne: he'-ka'kne (lit. woman-child)
"Opposite grammar":

The same scene or meaning in Cheyenne and English is sometimes captured by "opposite" grammar (subjects and objects are switched). Neither way is better; both are good and accurate for that language.

  English object fits the subject, e.g. 'This shirt fits me.'
  Cheyenne subject is fitted to the object, e.g. Nataa'ovo 
    tse'tohe stse'he (literally, 'I fit to the shirt.')

be lonesome for someone
  English subject is lonesome for the object, e.g. 'I am lonesome for him.'
  Cheyenne (semantic) subject is "lonesomed" by the "object", e.g. nhons'ota = 'I am lonesome for him' (literally, 'I am "lonesomed" by him.')
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