Monday, April 17, 2017


What is a "hose" in Chamorro?

It depends.

In Guam, tilipas.

In the CNMI, hos.

Why the difference?

The difference comes from who influenced them first. It is possible that rubber hoses were used on Guam during the late Spanish period. Hoses have been around for a long time, the later ones being made of stitched leather. By the 1870s, hoses were made of rubber. Had they been used in the Marianas then, the Spanish word manguera for "rubber hose" would have also been used by the Chamorros.

But, rubber hoses wouldn't have been used much in the Marianas till the 1900s. By then, Spain was no longer ruling over the Marianas and the Spanish language would now have no strong influence over the Chamorros. Manguera never entered permanently into our Chamorro speech, if at all.

By the time a real system of water pipes was put in place in Guam and Saipan in the early 1900s, the Americans on Guam and the Japanese in Saipan were changing things up for the Chamorro people.


So, assuming our people had no word for what they probably didn't see or use much, or at all, they had to come up with their own word for the hose once it became a common item.

So some imaginative person on Guam looked at a hose and said, "Kalan tilipas este!" "This looks like intestines!" Well, I don't know that for sure, but that's the word that stuck on Guam, probably because a hose resembles intestines.


What's interesting is that some of the first hoses in ancient history were indeed made of intestines! Just as they were historically used as casings for sausages, the intestines of animals were cleaned and then used as water channels.

The Chamorro word tilipas comes from the Spanish word tripa, or tripas in the plural. Tripa refers to the innards or guts of an animal, including the intestine. It is related to the English word "tripe."

In older Chamorro, people sometimes had to say "tilipas goma" or "rubber intestines" to differentiate a hose from an animal's intestines. Even more clear, to avoid confusion, was "tilipas goma para hånom," or "rubber intestine for water."

Today, the context is enough to tell people which tilipas is being used, the hose or the body part.

Ma puno' i babue ya ma laknos i tilipås-ña. They killed the pig and took out its intestines.

Chule' i tilipas ya un rega i tinanom. Get the hose and water the plants.


Now up in Saipan, the Japanese ruled from 1914 till 1944, and their influence added to the Chamorro language spoken there.

The Japanese had a word for "hose," and, if we were to spell it in Roman letters, it would be spelled hōsu. That word itself comes from the Dutch word hoos, which sounds like our English "hose" and means just that - a hose. The Japanese got the word from the Dutch, who did a lot of trading with the Japanese. There are, in fact, a good number of Dutch words that came into the Japanese language.

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