I've already gotten some wonderfully annoying responses from my last post where I was complaining about the seriously undiscussed contributions of fluent speakers of Chamorro to the loss of the language.
I should be use to this sort of thing by now, after all, each time I publish a zine and there is Chamorro somewhere in it, I get a flood of emails from concerned citizens who take from their busy schedules of saving the Chamorro people and language, to tell me all the things wrong or bad about my Chamorro. If these were actually mistakes or typoes, then the correcting might actually be welcome, but it usually never is. (oh and if there is a typo, its treated as if I don't know how to speak the language, according to one speaker who went back into my writings from like years ago, he confronted me with "sinangan Maria" and told me he had no idea what this meant. Well if he had noticed that it was a typo and not my actual grammar, maybe he could have saved us both some grief. Because if you see it as typo instead of some pathological error, then its really really easy to figure out what it means.).(I'm not perfect though, and I know very well that my Chamorro is very rough. But properness has never mattered much to me in anything, so why should language be any different?)
The emails always let me know that they just want to help and make sure I speak the language and write the language properly, at which point they proceed to push on me their personal preferences for Chamorro language all the while slashing apart mine.
There was one incident recently which cemented in my head that when people talk about proper grammar, be very very wary. Be wary of anyone who says that they are teaching you to speak the proper way, because it just might not be so at all, and the problem is, if you are learning, you have no way of really knowing if they are actually helping you or just don't like the way you talk.
This incident I'm about to relate just made it clear to me, that grammar needs to be rethought, because there are too many inconsistencies for someone to just say "here's proper grammar."
In the last zine I put out in July, there was an article there on i difunton Angel Santos who passed away in 2003. I titled it Fanhasso Si Anghet.
To date I've received emails from more than a dozen different Chamorro linguistic good samaritans telling me that Fanhasso Si Anghet is incorrect. Based on this fact alone, one might think, well then saying Fanhasso Si Anghet must be incorrect, all those people are telling you its wrong. Nope, sorry, its not that simple.
True all the emails I got did tell me it was wrong, but the emails also gave me four different ways of saying it "correctly" most of them insisting that the one way they said it was the correct way.
Accordingly, fanhasso Si Anghet was supposed to be each one of these alone and all of them at the same time.
Hasso Si Anghet
Fanhasso As Anghet
Fanmanhasso Si Anghet
Fanmanhasso As Anghet
(and naturally I was given English translations as to what each meant, and people's translations of them and what they were supposed to me, of course varied a great deal. Some saying that this was plural, others saying it wasn't. Some saying that this was an imperative, others saying this one is the imperative. (not using the word imperative, but saying its a command)).
Why do people cling to certain grammatical rules when there is so much diversity in the language? It makes no sense to me, except selfishness and the love of correcting people. Each person must have gotten a kick out of telling me that this one way, or these two ways were correct and the way I had said it was not. But then someone else would tell me the exact opposite.
It must take alot of denial to say that there are particular proper ways of speaking Chamorro, thus denying these inconsistencies. Or you can do as most people do and say, "you can say that, but its not proper," which of course if you actually think about it, makes no sense whatsoever.
I have so many problems with this mentality. Because this mentality is very much colonial, because it relies on the idea that our language is dictated by some abstract principles and not the people who actually speak it. So often people tell me that a way of saying something is just completely wrong, so I often ask, how many people do I have to show you that use this way of speaking before it right? Before its proper? Does it have to be like this? Is our language supposed to be a pissing match? I should hope not.
To end this rant, the most aggrivating thing about this nonsense, is that I get more emails about grammar and spelling issues, then the actual content of the zine on a regular basis. Its good to know that there are people out there preserving our language and making sure its "proper." Now if only they could get around to actually teaching the language to someone, then we'd be in good shape. I can say this though, because the people who do hassle me, they are never actual teachers of Chamorro. They are always people who talk endlessly about what we can do, but you rarely see them doing anything but talking. People who are on the front lines of language transmission, they probably realize that there is more important work to be done then hassling me about every tiny little nit picking detail.