Monday, October 3, 2011


One often hears, in Chamorro, the threat, "Adahe, o sino bai na' salamångka hao!"  "Watch out, or I will make you trip!"

The word puzzled me, because there is a well-known Spanish city called Salamanca, home of a famous and very old university.

But salamångka also means to outwit, to outmaneuver, to trick.  It can also mean to somersault, or to lose one's balance and fall.

How did any of this come from the name of a Spanish city?

A look into a Tagalog dictionary offered some surprises.  In Tagalog, salamangka means to trick, by magic or slight of hand.  It can also mean to juggle.  These all have connections with the Chamorro meanings.  With so much contact between Filipinos and Chamorros during Spanish times, I wouldn't be surprised if this where it all started.  But where did Filipinos get salamangka?  Maybe it has nothing to do with the City of Salamanca.

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