Tuesday, January 1, 2013



As it is the New Year, I thought I'd look at a Chamorro word than can mean "year."  Såkkan.

Can mean.  Why "can mean?"

Because såkkan has multiple meanings.

We'll look at "year" first.  The calendar we use now (Gregorian) is, of course, a European one.  Our ancestors used a different kind of calendar, which followed the phases of the moon, hence a lunar calendar.  It was made up of thirteen, not twelve, months.

Some uses of såkkan as "year" are :

Håfa na såkkan?  What year?

Gi ma'pos na såkkan.  Last year.

I mamamaila' na såkkan.  The coming year.

Gi 1974 na såkkan.  In the year 1974.

Ti på'go na såkkan.  Not this year.

I once knew a lady who was born in 1900.  So when it was 1974, she was 74; in 1980 she was 80 and so on.  So she told me, "Acha amko' ham yan i sakkan."  "I am as old as the year."  I thought it was a delightful manner of speaking.


Såkkan can also mean "age."

I sakån-ho.  My age.

Kuånto sakån-mo?  How old are you?  (Literally, "How many years do you have?")

Ti meggagai sakån-ña.  S/he isn't very old. (Literally, "S/he doesn't have many years.")

***Notice that I changed the spelling from såkkan to såkan, because the possessive suffix does change the pronunciation.


Såkkan can also mean "maturity, ripeness."

Ti sasakan.  Not ripe, not mature, still green.

Gaisakan na taotao.  A mature person.


Såkkan.  Used to refer to crops when they are harvested.

Ti maolek na såkkan.  The harvest was poor.

Manmañåñåkkan.  They are havesting.

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