Monday, August 22, 2011


A common mistake is made mixing up the words sin and sen.

Sin is borrowed from the Spanish and means "without."  It is equivalent to the indigenous Chamorro word tai.

Humånao hao sin adios.  You went without a goodbye.
Mamomokkat gue' sin sapåtos.  She is walking around without shoes.

There is a traditional song that uses it in its opening lines :

I puenge sin pulan / i ha'åne sin somnak; (The night without the moon / the day without sunshine)
i batkonaire sin piloto / i dos ni mayamak. (The plane without a pilot / two people who have broken apart).

But many people pronounce it sen.  I puenge sen pulan...

But, in Chamorro, sen means "very."  Sen maolek!  Very good!

In the Guam Hymn (Fanohge Chamorro), we are told to "exalt her praises forever more" - "abiba i isla sin paråt!"  Sin paråt - without ceasing.  Not sen paråt; that would mean "really ceasing."

Sin can also mean "tin" but it is borrowed from the Spanish word for zinc, which can be either "zinc" or "cinc."  We had a hard time pronouncing the "k" sound at the end of "zinc" so our word for it is sin.  By the end of the 1800s, the Spanish were using zinc sheets for the roofing of some important buildings, including the church in Hagåtña.

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