Friday, March 18, 2016


A "false friend" is a term used in language studies that refers to a word that means one thing in one language, but something else in a different language.

So the temptation is to think that "rope" in Spanish is "ropa." But Spanish ropa means "clothes."

The Chamorro word posision, borrowed from the Spanish posición is somewhat a false friend, but not entirely.

That is because posision can mean "position," as in a thing or a person's location, job or situation.

Håfa na posision malago'-mo? What position do you want?

That is a perfectly correct Chamorro question to ask someone applying for a job.

But posision can also mean, and very often only means, a thing or a person's physical appearance.

Kalan malångo posision-mo. You look somewhat sick.

Bonito posision-ña! It looks pretty!

So, if you are new to the study of the Chamorro language, be careful. If you hear someone say posision, you may be tempted to think s/he is talking about someone's physical position. That is very well possible, but chances are the topic is a thing or a person's physical appearance.

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