Friday, June 10, 2011

KÅNDET : instrument giving light (not the light itself, which is a different word)

Before the Spaniards, Chamorros certainly had light from fire.  As recently as our grandparents' time, Chamorros would put coconut oil in a vessel, place some kind of wick and light it, so that was more than likely possible hundreds of years ago as well.

But when the Spaniards introduced glass oil or kerosene lamps, Chamorros borrowed the Spanish word for "lamp," -  "candil."  We pronounce it kåndet.

But, don't forget, when we place the definite article "i" (the) in front of kåndet, that changes the å to a plain a (sounding more like the "a" in "apple.") 

Back in the days when one lit lamps, and didn't turn them on, you said "na' fañila' i kandet."  Fañila' means "to give off or reflect light."  "Mañiñila' ma'lak i mata-mo," means, "Your face is radiating brightly."  Na' is to make something happen.  Na' fañila'.  To make shine, radiate.

But then came the Americans and electricity and light switches, something new to us and we had to find new vocabulary for turning on switches which we didn't have before.

One solution was na' la'la'.  La'la' means "alive, to live."  Na' la'la' i kandet means to make the electrical light come alive.   When the switch is off, that bulb certainly looks dead.  It comes alive with electricity at the turn of the switch.

So the opposite would be to take the life away from the light; i.e. to kill.  So, "puno' i kandet."  Kill the light.  One kills a fire, too, so why not?

In modern times, many people use the English "on" and "off."  Na' on i kandet; na' off i kandet.

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