Monday, February 24, 2020


In Chamorro culture, when two men share the same first name, they are called KÅYO.

Two Josés, two Juans, two each other they are kåyo.

If two Josés work in the same office or business, you could ask one José about the other José and ask, "Mångge i kayu-mo?" "Where is your namesake?"

The same would apply about two Josés no matter what the context, as long as the two Josés knew each other so that the one José would know who you were talking about.


The word, and probably the concept, is borrowed from Hispanic culture.

In Spanish, TOCAYO is someone who shares your personal name.

There is no clear origin of this word, some even suggesting it comes from Náhuatl, the language of the Aztecs in Mexico.

Evidently, our Chamorro ancestors borrowed the term and shortened it to KÅYO.

The belief that kåyo comes from Spanish tocayo is also based on the frequency of repeated first names among Chamorros once they all became Catholic.

Prior to colonization, there were some repeated names among our ancestors, but not as much as after colonization. Once our ancestors became Catholic, duplication of first names abounded; many Marías and many Josés.

In Spanish and in Hispanic cultures, two women who share the same personal name are tocaya. But I don't think this was adopted by our ancestors or, if it was, it didn't last long. One hears of kåyo, never a kåya, and this is always applied to men. I never hear it applied to women.

In Tagalog, tocayo became katukayo. The ka- prefix means "partner" and tukayo means "name" or "nickname."

In modern slang, kåyo has been further shortened to kåts.

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