Learning the Seneca Indian Language
Starting the Conversation
In this first section, we cover words and phrases designed to start a conversation, keep a conversation going, and ways to say 'Goodbye.'
Nya:wëh sgë:nö’ (nyah-weh-sgeh-noh) Hello.
Literally translates to, I am thankful you are well. The particle sgë:nö’ means 'health; well-being.'
Sadögweta’ (sah-doh-gway-tah) How are you doing?
Gadögweta’ (gah-doh-gway-tah) I am well
Sgadögweta’ (sgah-doh-gway-tah) I am feeling better
De’gadögweta’ (dey-gah-doh-gway-tah) I am not well
*** Note: The “de’” prefix negates the sentiment, i.e. means ‘not’ ***
Gi′shëh (gee's-heh) Excuse Me / I’m sorry
Nyoh (nyoh) Alright; Okay; So Be It
Nya:wëh (nyah-weh) Thank you
O:h! (oh) Oh!
Dogës! (doh-geh-s)! Truly, Very
*** It is polite to add "i:s koh" (ees-koh), meaning "you too?" after "dogës"
There is no word for "good bye" in the Seneca language. Common phrases of departure are as follows:
Ësgö:gë’ae’ (eh-sgoh-geh-ay) I will see you again
Ë:göhgë (eh-goh-geh) I'll see you
Dëjíhnita:ë’ (deh-jee-nee-tah-eh) We will talk again
Dëjinyatsa'së'ae' (deh-jee-nya-cha'seh'ay) Our paths shall cross again
Dëjinyadade:gë'ae' (deh-jee-nya-dah-day-geh'ay) We will see each other again
*** You would respond to these with "nyoh" (see above)
The following phrases are handy in the even that you are unclear what has been said to you (I use these often in my practice conversations!).
Dë'gëh gëdöh? (deh-geh geh-doh) What does it mean?
Dë'ëh o'si? (deh-eh oh-see) What did you say?