Monday, January 23, 2012

A false friend is a word that looks the same in two languages, but means two different things.

Buen probecho is Chamorro for "you're welcome."

But it is borrowed from the Spanish phrase buen provecho, which means "good appetite!"

I would have loved to be there the moment one of our ancestors decided that "good appetite" would become "you're welcome" in Chamorro!

As none of this is documented, we'll never know how this got to be.

1 comment:

  1. I am Chamorro living in Mexico. I think I have a theory of when "buen probechu" changed it's meaning to be "you're welcome." Whenever I am served food in Mexico, I reply with "gracias" and it immediately followed with a response "buen provecho" from the server. Because of my English language influence, the "buen provecho" response to my "gracias" made it seem like it meant "you're welcome." I think the first generation of English speaking Chamorros mistook the meaning of "buen probechu" as "you're welcome." Simply because they were taught that "you're welcome" is the response to "thank you." Imagine the young Chamorros of that time sitting down to eat is served food (by their Spanish era parents) and says, "si yu'us ma'ase"... then thier parents, practicing the Spanish custom, reply "buen probechu." The Chamorro youngster would then think that "buen probechu" means "you're welcome." Just a theory.