Thursday, December 4, 2014


Well, before Charmin came along, what DID our mañaina use?

Some say this....

....or whatever leaf (non-irritating) was handy.

I am old enough to remember we often used this, especially in the outhouses :

But when actual toilet paper became commercially available, Guam and Saipan (and Luta) diverged because, when that time came, we were under two different colonial powers.

On American Guam, our people decided to forego trying to pronounce the English "toilet paper" and coined the Chamorro phrase "påppet etgue," which literally means "paper for wiping."  Not just wiping, as in wiping anything. But I don't want to get more specific. You get the idea.

While on Japanese Saipan and Luta (modern Tinian had no Chamorro community before WW2), the Chamorros borrowed the Japanese word for tissue chirigami.

The Japanese word chirigami comes from two words. Kami means "paper" (it also means "god"). Chiri means "dust" or also "rubbish."  Rubbish paper. The word did not only mean "toilet paper." Inexpensive wrapping paper was also called chirigami.  Or, chirigami could also mean a coarse, rough kind of paper. In fact, today in Japan, many people no longer call toilet paper chirigami. Many call it tisshu (tissue) or even toiretto pepa (toilet paper).  But, just as it happens in other places, Saipan and Luta preserve an old usage less employed in the original country!

On Guam, as well, there is a standard joke that we use "paper toilet" in the restroom.

Whatever you call it, make sure you know your Guam term, and your Saipan/Luta (and now Tinian) term, so you get what you need when you're in a jam.

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