Sunday, December 18, 2011


One of the best-loved Chamorro Christmas songs in all the islands of the Marianas. Here it is sung by a group in Saipan :

Lyrics :

Na guinaiyayon ennao na påtgon / sen mames, måhgong, yan ti kamten.
Hu fa' Yu'os-ho i Satbadot-ho / yan i pastot-ho giya Belen.

(How lovable is that child / very sweet, peaceful and still.
I acknowledge my Savior as my God / and my Shepherd in Bethlehem.)

I Patgon Yu'us hamamatkilo / kalan kinilo gi sagå-ña
gi liyan gå'ga' sen ti umugong / sa' gos mañungon yan manñaña'.

(The Child God is silent / like a lamb in its place
in a cave for animals he whimpers not / because he truly endures it and is tender.)

Låhen i Bithen ginen i langet / Rai i man ånghet yan i taotao.
Hu sen gofli'e yan hu dimuye / sa' hu hassuye nguminge' hao.

(Son of the Virgin, from heaven / King of the angels and people.
I truly love and kneel before you / because I intend to venerate you.)

Interesting words...

Kamten : it means "restless, constantly moving, quick to move or act."  The word kalamten (to move, stir about) is related to it.  Unfortunately, the word kamten has come to exclusively mean in recent years "someone always on the move romantically."   A philanderer certainly cannot stay still, but kamten means "quick to act, constantly moving" in more than one way.  Kamten kanai-ña means someone has a quick hand, like a thief.  More knowledgeable speakers of Chamorro don't have to smirk every time kamten is used in a sentence. 

Måhgong : don't confuse with mågongMåhgong means "peace, peaceful."  Mågong means "healed, recovered." 

Kinilo : lamb.  But there aren't any lambs in the Marianas.  Where did we get the word?  It's a Chamorro pronunciation of the Spanish word for lamb, "cordero."  We avoid the "r" so it would first come out as kotdelo.  But that's still a little hard on our tongues so we soften it to kinilo.

HamamatkiloMamatkilo is to "be quiet, say nothing."  Putting the prefix ha before an adjective or verb means "always" or "frequently."  Hamalango means "always sick."  Hamaleffa means "habitually forgetful."  Make sure you put the stress on the ha.  HA-maleffa.  Not hama-LEF-fa.

Original Song

Pale' Román says that the Spanish original from which this song is taken is "Niño Divino," but I haven't been able to find it.

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