Friday, March 1, 2013
US VERSUS US
We're used to the saying "Us versus Them."
But when village murals started going up some years ago, there was some discrepancy which Chamorro word for "us" to use. Some villages used "hami," or "hame."
And others used the word "hita."
What's the difference.
In English, "us" is "us" and "we" is "we." But, in conversation, we're not sure who is always included or excluded when those words are used.
For example, when someone tells you, "We are going to the movies," you need to know from what went before, or from what follows, whether YOU yourself are included in this trip to the movies.
But in Chamorro, as in some other languages, the vocabulary itself solves the problem.
"Hame" means "Us, but not you." Exclusive.
"Hita" means "Us, including you." Inclusive.
So, in the case of the village murals, either word, hame or hita, works fine. It just depends who is talking to who.
If a Sumay person is talking to another Sumay person and wants to say "We, the people of Sumay," s/he would say, "Hita ni taotao Sumay." Hita, because both speaker and listener are included; both are from Sumay.
If a Sumay person is talking to someone not from Sumay and wants to say, "We, the people of Sumay," then s/he would say, "Hame ni taotao Sumay." Hame, because the listener is not included in the group "people from Sumay." Exclusive.
But people of both classes, residents and non-residents, pass these village signs all day long. The included and the excluded drive by and read these signs. So which word do you use? The inclusive, or the exclusive? I suppose the speaker itself - the village - has to decide first who it is speaking to in these signs. The resident? Or the non-resident? In Chamorro, it cannot be both.