Thursday, March 26, 2015

CHAMORRO....THE ENGLISH WAY



In recent years, there has been a greater interest among many people to revert to or continue to use Chamorro words, even though they are used in an English context.

But we are often unaware just how much we are a product of our times, and the overwhelming English-language environment many of us grew up in. We are so immersed in that linguistic sea that we hardly realize how wet we are!

Take, for example, the word saina. It's Chamorro for anyone who is senior or higher in status than you. It could be a parent, older relative, older people in general and people of civic and religious standing. It can even be applied to God. Yet, a twenty-year-old is still saina to his or her five-year-old nephew or niece. It is a very elastic word in our language, but the essential meaning is clear. The saina is above, I am below.

As we engage more with our elders, we hear people speaking publicly about their - sainas. "We welcome all our sainas to today's event."

It sounds very supportive of the Chamorro language revival, but the word sainas is subjecting a Chamorro word to English grammatical rules.

In Chamorro, we do not denote something in the plural by adding an -S at the end of the word.

The exception to this rule is with some Spanish loan words.  I senadot. The senator. I senadores. The senators. Señot. Sir. Señores. Sirs.


HOW WE MAKE THINGS PLURAL IN CHAMORRO


1. Add the prefix MAN before the word

ETMÅNA (religious sister)
MAN ETMÅNA (religious sisters)

MÅ'GAS (the great, the superior, the powerful, etc)
MAN MÅ'GAS (the great ones, superior ones, powerful ones, etc)

2. Keep in mind that MAN can undergo a change if the following word begins with K, P, S, T or CH

MAN + K = MANG

Kilisyåno = Mangilisyåno (Christians)
Katoliko = Mangatoliko (Catholics)

MAN + P = MAM

Påle' = Mamåle' (priests)
Popble = Mamopble (the poor people)

MAN + S = MAÑ

Sottera = Mañottera (single women, teenage girls)

MAN + T = MAN

Tomtom = Manomtom (the wise people)
Tunas = Manunas (the righteous people)

MAN + CH = MAÑ

Che'lu = Mañe'lu (the siblings)

3. Be careful, though; there are often exceptions

Man + parientes remains manparientes (the relatives).

Man + sendålo remains mansendålo (the soldiers).

Man + chunge' remains manchunge' (the gray/white haired ones).

Sometimes, there is a change and sometimes there isn't.

Some people say Mañamorro and others say Manchamorro.

4. Adding the prefix MAN is not the only way to make something plural. Often, one simply adds the word SIHA after the word. SIHA denotes plural.

I Tagålo siha. The Filipinos. No one says "I man Tagålo," although that is still grammatically correct.

I chetda siha. The bananas. No one says, "I man chotda."

I gima' siha. The houses. No one says, "I man guma'."

Sometimes, one can use MAN and still use SIHA. That makes it very clear the subject is plural.

I man sendålo siha. The soldiers.

I man gefsaga siha. The wealthy people.

So...

INSTEAD OF….


TRY…

SAINAS


MAÑAINA

MAN ÅMKOS


MAN ÅMKO’

PÅLES

MAMÅLE’


GUMAS (often heard nowadays for houses of dance groups)


GUMA’ SIHA

FAFANA’GUES (often heard now for “teacher” in lieu of maestro/maestra)


MAN FAFANA’GUE or
FAFANA'GUE SIHA



It would be wonderful to hear an MC say from now on.....

"We would like to welcome our MAÑAINA today," instead of

"We would like to welcome our SAINAS today."

If we're going to speak English sprinkled with a little bit of Chamorro, let's keep the Chamorro word as intact as possible in its Chamorro form.

Otherwise, we will be promoting but an Anglicized version of the Chamorro term.








4 comments:

  1. Pale’ Eric,
    I recently started following your blog and I have to say, si yu’os ma’ase for creating a place that I can go to, to learn more about Guam history and the Chamorro language! I find your blog insightful and educational! Several months ago I started studying Chamorro. Your blog helps me understand our language better. I enjoy your stories in Chamorro along with the translations in English. Your blog awakens a sense of greater pride for my Chamorro lineage and is a way for me to connect to my culture and home! I look forward to your future postings!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your words of encouragement!

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  2. Great post Pale' Eric. Very Informative :)

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