Saturday, March 8, 2014


An elderly lady was talking to me yesterday about wanting to show me an old book written in Chamorro passed down to her from her grandmother.

But she wanted to apologize in advance because her grandchildren had gotten a hold of the book and marked it up a little bit with their scribbling.

She said, "Mampos geftao i kannai-ñiha man månge'."  Literally meaning, "Their hands are too generous in writing."

It struck me as an unfamiliar and endearing way of expressing something children do.

Language is more than just the black-and-white expression of things like "Open the door; shut the door."

Language conveys feelings, attitudes, a way of looking at life.  This will differ from culture to culture, person to person.

It is also why learning a language from a book; looking at just vocabulary and grammar is not enough.  The best way to learn a language is to interact with someone who speaks it as a first language.  Those opportunities are running out fast.

To see a child's scribbling as being generous in the use of one's hand.  That's a new way (for me) of looking at something old.  But it was her old, Chamorro way of looking at it.

1 comment:

  1. Well, I read it as more of way to mitigate her implied criticism after she described their having marked the book up. I don't think she meant that she really admired their generosity. But I'm not a Chamorro, so what do I know?