Thursday, October 2, 2014


Our mañaina who lived under the Spanish incorporated numerous Spanish sayings and expressions into their Chamorro speech; expressions that were never translated to Chamorro as they borrowed them. Our mañaina didn't need to translate them because, for the most part, they understood what the Spanish expression meant.

But we, today, lost our familiarity with Spanish quite awhile ago. I would say that mañaina born after 1910 or so probably did not understand the literal meaning of these Spanish expressions, though they used these phrases a lot. Growing up with mañaina born from 1899 to 1917, I heard these expressions all the time. I mean that. ALL the time.

Our mañaina didn't change the Spanish words, but they did, when necessary, change the pronunciation to fit Chamorro sounds.

In this post, I will focus just on the Spanish expressions referring to God (Dios).


The expression means "GOD FREE US." It can also mean "God save us," as in Saint Teresa's quote, "God save us from gloomy saints."  So it doesn't mean "God free us" as in we're enslaved and need that kind of freedom, but rather freedom from harm.

Sometimes people would change it to "Dios te libre," meaning "God free you."

Rarely, I have heard older people say, "Dios nos libre de todo måt," in Spanish it's "de todo mal." It means, "God save us from all evil."  In Chamorro, we have the L sound, but not at the end of a syllable. So Spanish mal becomes Chamorro måt.


The Spanish say "Dios nos guarde," but, in Chamorro, we don't have the R sound. It changes to an L (guitarra becomes gitåla) or a T when at the end of a syllable (tambor becomes tåmbot and guarde becomes guåtde).

The phrase means, "God keep us," as in "keep you safe and sound."

Again, the expression can be changed to "Dios te guåtde," "God keep you."


The phrase means "God protect you."

It can also be changed to "Dios nos ampåre," but I can't recall ever hearing that.

It's interesting because for every rule there is an exception, and this is one. We don't like the R and we changed it to an L or a T, but not in this case.

Dios te ayude

All this should remind us of a Spanish expression we hear frequently, which is the response given to someone who fannginge' the elder or the saina : Dios te ayude.

Dios te ayude is also Spanish, meaning "God help/assist you."

We pronounce the Y in ayude the Chamorro way, as in Yigo or Yoña.

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