Thursday, June 21, 2012



The mangoes have been so plentiful this year, people are paying you to take them.  It seems we also have more than enough avocados to go around this year as well.  We've been getting bags and bags of them.

The Chamorro word for avocado is alageta.  I have often wondered about that because we know it is native to Central America and so it had to have been brought to the Marianas.  There was no indigenous name for it.  But in Spanish it is called aguacate.  The Filipinos call it abukado.  But alageta? Where did we come up with that?

For years it did strike me that alageta sounds like a Chamorro pronunciation of alligator.  Sure enough, "alligator pear" is another English name for avocado.

Then I checked Safford, an American Naval officer who was secretary to the Governor in the very first years of the U.S. occupation of Guam.  Safford was interested in everything; language, plants, history, you name it.  And he wrote a lot of it down.

According to Safford, he introduced avocados to Guam.  So there we have it.  No wonder we don't even call avocados by their Spanish name, as we often do with fruits and vegetables introduced by the Spaniards.  This was brought in by an American, and another English name for avocado is "alligator pear," or, as we would pronounce it with our accent - alageta!
William E. Safford

Next time you eat a local alageta, you have him to thank for it

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