Tuesday, May 12, 2015


The Spanish paragraph above was written by a Chamorro in 1950. And it is impeccable Spanish, except for a single spelling mistake and the lack of accents - all rather minor.  Further, it was written by a Chamorro woman!* Keep in mind that, in the era she grew up, in the early 1900s, women were usually not given much of an education.

Yes, the use of Spanish among many Chamorros in those days was that good.

The note above was written on the inside cover of a novena book.  It says :

Aviso Importante
(Important Notice)

Si esta novena se perdiere,
(If this novena gets lost,)

como suele suceder
(as often happens)

suplico al que me la hallare,
(I plead with whoever might find it for me,)

y que la sepa devolver.
(that he should know to return it.)

Si no sabe mi nombre
(If he doesn't know my name)

aquí lo he de poner
(here I shall put it)

Pangelinan Cruz por apellido
(Pangelinan Cruz is the surname)

Asunción para servir a usted.
(Asunción to be at your service.)

Agaña Heights a 22 de
(Agaña Heights on the 22nd of)

Mayo de 1950. Lot #19
(May of 1950.) Lot #19


Un Padre Nuestro y Ave María
(One Our Father and Hail Mary)

para el bienechor (should be spelled bienhechor)
(for the benefactor)

You can see here the attachment that many older Chamorros had for Spanish. Even though the novena itself was written in Chamorro, the owner decided to write a note about "Lost and Found" in Spanish, to a possible finder who would have little chance of knowing what the note in Spanish meant! Still, she was that attached to the Spanish language.

You can also see that there is a touch of old-world elegance in the phraseology of the note. It somewhat approaches poetry.

In our super Americanized environment today, which leaves its own deep mark on our Chamorro language and culture today, we forget just how Hispanicized many of our mañaina were 100 years ago, and how attached they were to that language and culture.

* According to several family members, the handwriting is unmistakably their grandfather's, the husband of Asunción. In that case, his was the hand and Asunción was the voice of this Spanish message.

No comments:

Post a Comment