Wednesday, December 19, 2012



What's the Chamorro word used for expressing the idea of "support?"  To go along with, agree with, promote, endorse, back, stand behind and so on?

Some Chamorros say supotta, others say supotte.

Whenever a Chamorro word sounds suspiciously close to an English word, chances are the Chamorro borrowed from the Spanish, since both Spanish and English have many words that come from a Latin original.  "Support" comes from the Latin sub (under) and portare (to carry).

But the Spanish word soportar does not mean "support" in the way we usually mean; that is, to back, to endorse, to assist and so on.

Instead, soportar means "to bear, to endure, to withstand" and so on.

My opinion is that the idea to "support" someone or something in the sense we usually have today is a recent development, when we started to have elections and the idea of supporting candidates came about.  We didn't have popular elections till the 1950s.

So we had to come up with a Chamorro-sounding equivalent to the English word "support."  So we invented supotta or supotte.  We didn't truly borrow the word from the Spaniards, since we gave it a new meaning not found in Spanish.  We just made English "support" sound more Chamorro by making it sound more Spanish.  Think about the underlying message there!

This also explains why some Chamorros say supotta and others say supotte.  We took English "support" and some made it sound more Spanish by saying supotta while others thought supotte sounds just as Spanish as supotta.

I always go with supotta since, if we're trying to mimic Spanish, then their word soportar would be conjugated soporta (in the third person singular).

So far I've been talking about the verb form; the act of supporting.  What about the noun?  The idea of supporting.

In Chamorro, we turn verbs into nouns by adding the infix -in.

Guaiya, "to love," is a verb.  Guinaiya is the noun "love."

So one could turn supotta/supotte into sinipotta/sinipotte.

But I prefer another option, which is totally a Chamorro invention though it sounds Spanish, and that is supottasion.

I think it's cool how inventive we can be, taking words from other languages and giving them our own form and even our own meanings.

Kao un supopotta yo' guine?


Long before we came up with supotta/supotte, we did have two words that express the idea of "support."

Apoyo means "support" and is borrowed straight from the Spanish apoyar, which means "support" in the sense of rendering assistance.  Tohne is truly Chamorro and it means "to support, reinforce, sustain, hold up."  I suppose it could be applied to political support, but I think supotta/supotte is here to stay while the Chamorro language lasts.

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