Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Presenting the GLOTA ( ' )!  This little apostrophe makes a lot of difference in Chamorro.  For example, take the word "gaga."  Put in the appropriate glota, and it becomes ga'ga', which means "animal."  Without the glota, it becomes the "better-known-as" for a branch of the Cruz family, i Familian Gaga.  Please don't call them "i Familian Ga'ga'."  They're my relatives, too!

Or, chocho (no glota) means "to eat."  Cho'cho' (with glota) means "work."

The glota tells us when we need to close the back of our throats and make a glottal stop.  We make that sound even in English, but without writing the glota.  Try to say the English exclamation "Oh oh!"  That split-second closing of the back of the throat in between the two "oh's" is the glottal stop.

As important as it is in our language, it's actually a recent addition to written Chamorro.  Older writers such as Pale' Roman did indeed use certain accent marks, but not the glota.  In the 1970s, Chamorro language specialists introduced the glota to the public and the people took to it with fervor.

But the PROBLEM now is that the glota is used where IT IS NOT NEEDED.  Take, for example, the street sign above.  The "t" in "chotda" makes it impossible to make a glottal stop after the "t."  A glottal stop can only be made after a vowel, not a consonant.  The glota is so Chamorro, people think, "Let's make this word or sentence more Chamorro and sprinkle glotas all over the place, even where it's not needed."

It's like powdering latiya with cinnamon.  More is better.  Maybe with cinnamon, but not with the glota.  We need to use it only when necessary.  If your throat doesn't squeeze and tighten way in the back, don't put a glota there.

This road is named after local oranges, kåhet.  The back of the throat does not tighten after "ka."  It smoothly moves on to conclude with "het."  No glota is needed.  In your best Chamorro accent, say Yoña, then say Yigo.  Do you hear the difference?  A glota really ought to be put in Yo'ña, but not in Yigo.

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