Wednesday, March 9, 2016


Play this video to hear the pronunciation of kinilís åtdao

Today in the western Pacific and in Southeast Asia we will experience a solar eclipse. The moon will block the sun for a little bit. Depending on where you live, the whole sun will be blocked or, just a part of the sun will be blocked.

How does one say "eclipse" in Chamorro?

Kilís in Chamorro means "to eclipse." Kinilís is the noun form.

Kinilís åtdao means " eclipse of the sun."

Note the pronunciation. The stress is on the last syllable. Ki - LIS. Or, ki - ni - LIS.


We can't be totally sure where kilís comes from.

Is it indigenous? Were our ancestors saying this word long before the Spaniards came?

Why not? Our ancestors saw eclipses, so there is every possibility that they had a word for it.

But the oldest Chamorro dictionaries give us this tantalizing clue.

They say that "eclipse" in Chamorro can also be klis.

Doesn't klis sound suspiciously close to the Spanish word for eclipse, which is "eclipse." Exactly the same spelling as in English, but, in Spanish, it is pronounced e - clip - se. Eh - klip - say.

It is so like Chamorro to shorten words by dropping beginning or ending syllables, or by blending two syllables into one.

So we can't totally exclude the possibility that the Spanish e - clip - se was shortened by Chamorros to klis.

In time, some people could have started saying ki - lis because it was easier to pronounce. We see this in the word kilisyåno, which comes from the Spanish cristiano ("Christian"). It is easier for us when pronouncing words to separate two consonants. We see this also in tulaika, which comes the Spanish trueca ("change"). The TR in trueca became TULaika because Chamorro doesn't favor the R. It tries to change R to L when possible.

But, like many things in the history of languages, we can only guess and have opinions.

No comments:

Post a Comment