Monday, December 26, 2011


Chamorro verse at 42 seconds

The Carolinians of Saipan are great singers and they defy the ridiculous idea many of us believed back in the 1950s and 60s, when we stopped teaching our children Chamorro, that a child cannot learn to speak more than one language well. 

This Carolinian lady sings the same song in four languages!  Including Chamorro, and the lyrics are :

Humånao hao gi batkon aire ti hu despide hao;
koronå-mo ginen guåho ti un chule'.
Tumohge yo' gi kanton plåsa
tumekkon, tumåtanges
sa' ni ke ni un dingo yo' guihe na ha'åne.

The following verse is sung in English so you'll figure out the meaning.  Then she ends the song in Tagalog.  The first verse was in Carolinian.

Interesting Words

Båtkon aire : literally, "air ship."  By the time airplanes came around the Spaniards had gone, otherwise we might be saying eroplåno (from the Spanish aeroplano), or abion (from the Spanish word avión).  So, the Chamorros took two words and made up their own word for airplane.  Just the same, both båtko and aire are borrowed from the Spanish barco and aire.

Korona : means "crown."  Jesus' "crown of thorns" is koronan låktos.  But the Saipan Chamorros also use this word to describe the floral garland used to crown the head, called mwarmwar in Carolinian.

Plåsa : On Guam, we think of the Plaza de España when we hear the word plåsa.  But plåsa means any cleared, flat land used in a public way, and a runway pretty much fits that description.  Even a baseball field could be called the plåsan bola, or a basketball court the plåsan basketbot.  When I lived in Saipan, when I needed a ride to the airport, I would say, "Konne' yo' fan para i plåsan batkon aire."
A Chamorro wearing a korona (mwarmwar)
Former Saipan Mayor Juan Borja Tudela

No comments:

Post a Comment