Sunday, July 8, 2012

CHAMORRO THE AMERICAN WAY



It's inevitable.  The predominant culture and language exerts its influence on the struggling but native one.  On Guam, at least, we live in an English ocean dotted with Chamorro atolls.

In Chamorro, there is no plural S.  Un taotao (one person) does not become dos taotaos (two persons). 

The root word in this political sign is ga'chong, which literally means companion, not friend.  In Chamorro, friend is abok (indigenous) or amigo/amiga (Spanish-borrowed).  Agofli'e (mutual beloved) is another option, while atungo' can also mean friend but can also have the sense of an aquaintance.  But ga'chong is a companion, not necessarily a friend, though one normally is accompanied by someone at least friendly.  A grandmother traveling on the plane with a grand daughter is not technically a friend to her grand daughter, but the grand daughter is the ga'chong or companion of the grandmother on the journey.

Even food can have a ga'chong.  If someone is having steak for dinner, s/he can be asked, "Ya håfa ga'chong-ña?"  What are you going to eat it with?

If a tool is made up of two components and one is missing, one can ask, "Ya måno gaige i ga'chong-ña?"  "Where is it's partner?"

But, today, ga'chong can be taken to mean a buddy, one of the gang, supporter, and this is the sense I think that is used in politics.

To talk about a group of ga'chong (plural), you put the prefix man before the word, as is done here.  I Man Ga'chong Fulåno or I Man Ga'chong Jose would have been sufficiently correct.  But one could also throw in the word siha at the end.  Siha is a plural marker.

Other Examples of Americanized Chamorro

Agafa Gumas.  Invented by the military, AGAFA stands for some Air Force housing division, and GUMAS is supposed to be HOUSES, from guma'.  But there is no plural S in Chamorro.

Che'lus.  "I'm gonna check on my che'lus."  Brothers.  Correct : my mañe'lo or mañe'lu.

Man Åmkos.  The elderly.  Correct : the man åmko'.

The Påles.  The priests.  Correct : the mamåle'.

Our tåtas and our nånas.  Our fathers and mothers.  Correct : our man tåta and our man nåna.

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