Thursday, June 19, 2014


The crooked mosquito?

O Maria Nana'magof is one of our well-known Chamorro Catholic hymns.

It includes the following line :

Goggue yo' yan chachalåne / tunanas gi echongñå-mo.

That line contains a word that most Chamorros today have no clue what it means.  Echongña.

People get confused because they know that echong means "crooked."  The possessive suffix -ña means "his, her or its."  Echong-ña means "his/her/its crooked?"  It doesn't make sense.

The suffix -ña can also mean "more."  Again, "more crooked" doesn't make sense.

Not knowing what echongña means, people come up with various theories, the funniest one being that it means "echong ñåmo," or the "crooked mosquito."

But the word echongña means "side."  Echongñå-mo means "your side."

The word echong (crooked) and echongña (side) are two different words.  But echongña is an old word modern Chamorros don't use and don't understand anymore.

So let's translate that whole line and see if it becomes clearer for us.

Goggue yo' yan chachalåne (Defend me and guide me)

tunanas gi echongñå-mo (straight alongside you).

We are asking Mary to defend us and guide us with her at our side and we at hers.

An aside (pun intended)

Echong and echongña are two different words with two different meanings, but consider that they may be derived from the same idea, because to be crooked (echong) means to lean towards one side (echongña) more than another side.

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