I am a geek and I am a geek about a lot of different things, comics, movies, manga, anime, video games. But the biggest thing that I am a geek about is Chamorro stuff. I love using the Chamorro language, writing in it, singing in it. I love learning all I can about Chamorro things, reading about them, writing about them. So I am un gof dongkalu na geek Chamoru.
But as a big fat Chamorro geek, I often find myself frustrated. Although there are plenty of young Chamorros out there that I can speak to about my geek loves, there is practically no one out there who I can speak to about these things in the Chamorro language. I can speak to my grand parents and plenty of older relatives in Chamorro about some things. For instance I can talk to them about the things they regularly discuss, such as the war (World War II), their childhoods, family stuff, or even The Young and the Restless. But if I want to have a discussion about which is the best Star Trek movie, or which English voice actor does the best dubbing for Jet Li in movies, hokkok i suette-ku, I’m out of luck. I’m sure, most of you can imagine what it might be like speaking to a 88 year old Chamorro man or woman about Star Trek. “Bar Peck? Hafa enao na Bar Peck?”
I dream about the revitalizing of the Chamorro language, not out of some abstract desire to have the language come back, but because frankly I’m usually pretty lonely in the language. I want to be able to speak in Chamorro to people my age, about the things that our age likes, loathes, gossips and banters about. In order for the language to really be embraced again by my generation and those after mine, I think we have to ground our speaking the language in this simple, selfish, everyday desire.
Teaching the language and preserving it in books is the easiest part of bringing a language back. Re-instilling a feeling of ownership however is much much harder. After decades of language barriers being set up between generations, today the Chamorro language is thought of as something that belongs to older people, to discuss old people things. It belongs to our grandparents or our parents when they are mad at us. It belongs to spaces like church, rosaries, funerals or the month of March.
The Chamorro language will never be taken up by younger generations unless they see it as something in which they themselves can own, something that they can use to discuss not only the worlds of their grandparents or great grandparents, but their worlds as well.
Something that has a place for them, their loves, hates, desires, longings, their needs. The language has to be something in which they can ground and find their own identities. This means that the language will change and grow, it has to or else it will die, I cannot sound like or be just the way it once was spoken, but has to sound, feel and be different!
And simply put, unless it finds a way to colonize the lives of younger people, it will remain vibrant only in the pages of books and the fading memories of our elders. For the language to thrive it has to be in the minds and mouths of our children and in the spaces that they build their relationships, identities and consciousness through. It has to be in the notes they get caught passing to each other in class, the blogs they write, the artwork they make their parents and friends, their text messages, or the comments they post for each other on Myspace or Facebook.
Today, I’d like to take some ownership over the Chamorro language, in the spirit of expanding what the Chamorro language can do, and use it to talk about one of my current favorite video games, Rock Star Band (I call it this, you probably call it Rock Band). So in order for you to see that it is possible to use the language to talk about video games, and also to help those who might be hoping to learn the language as well, I’ve prepared a dialogue in which four Chamorro speakers are playing the song “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden. This will hopefully be the first of many such geeky dialogues gi fino’ Chamoru.
(note: The Chamorro is in this dialogue is written by me and so it’s the way I speak, I don’t intend to represent this as the most authentic and best Chamorro, but it is simply the way I speak the language. Thus any grammatical or spelling errors are mine and I apologize ahead of time.)
Miget: Hafa ta dandan på’go?
(What will we play now?)
Francisco: Ei, mampos kinenne’ hao ni’ Rock Star Band Miget. Lao para Guahu kalang esta mata’pang.
(Man, you are really addicted to this game Miget. But for me, its already kind of boring.) NOTE: “Mata’pang” here means “without taste” as opposed to the usual “crazy” meaning associated with it.
Jose: Ayek i mas mappot. Este utimo na kanta gof faset. I bachet na biha gi i chalån-måmi siña ha igi.
(Pick the hardest song. The last one was too easy. The blind man on our street could beat it.)
Juan: Estague, este na kanta. “Falågu para i Ekso Siha”
(Here, this song. “Run to the Hills.”)
Francisco: Ah, no way palau. Gaige yu’ gi tambot siha. Maolekña na un utot ha’ i kannai-hu på’go. Fanayek otro.
(Absolutely not. I’m on the drums. Its better if you just chop off my fingers now. Pick another one.) NOTE: Some of you might remember the phrase “No Way Palau” from the infamous book English, the Chamorro Way.
Juan: Esta sala’ hao che’lu-hu.
(Too late my brother)
Jose: Laña, sa’ hafa tåya’ Tinapu gi este na huegon video? Gos malago bei filak “Koronan Flores.” (Dammit, why is there no Tinapu songs in this game? I really want to play “Koronan Flores.” NOTE: “Filak” which literally means “to braid or thread” usually when talking about rope or hair, in this case is used in relation to playing the guitar, much like the word “shred” in English slang.
Francisco: “Un na’beste hao koronan flores, para i che’cho-mu…”
NOTE: Lyrics to the song “Koronan Flores
Miget: Yanggen mamåhan hao Guitar Hero, siña un na’halom i dandån-mu, lao Hågu debi di un fa’tinas i notas para kada i membro i inetno. Pues hu sangåni i subrinu-hu, (sa’ mas kapas gui’ put musika). Bai fahåni hao ni i kabåles na set yanggen un fa’tinåsi yu’ ni’ Tres na Kantan J.D. Crutch.
(If you buy a copy of Guitar Hero, you can put in your own songs, but you have the be the one to make the notes for each band member. So I told my nephew (because he’s more apable when it comes to music (than I am)), I’ll buy you the whole set if you make me three J.D. Crutch songs.)
Jose: Gaibali enao. Na’halom lokkue’ noskuantos na kanta Jimmy Dee ya siempre i bihu-hu pau saonao hit lokkue’.
(That’s worth it. Put in a couple of Jimmy Dee songs and my grandfather will join us as well.)
Juan: Famåtkilu! Esta pau tutuhun.
(Quiet everyone, its about to start)
Jose: Deskånsañaihon mañe’lu-hu, sa’ ti gos mappot i tinituhon.
(Rest a bit everyone because the beginning isn’t very hard)
Francisco: Pakaka’! Osino mangkinahñayi hit!
(Shut up or you’ll jinx us!) NOTE: The root word for “mangkinahñayi” is “kahñayi” which means to cast a spell or a hex upon.
Jose: Mambula’! Usa iyon-miyu “Fuetsan Estreyas!”
(We’re full! Use your star power!) NOTE: Directly translating things from one language to another like this “star power = fuetsan estreyas) is pretty silly and fun. You end up combining words and saying things you never would otherwise.
(Cool!) NOTE: I asked my grandfather how he would say “cool” in Chamorro, or how would he communicate the idea of “cool” in his Chamorro. This is what he came up with.
Miget: Hafa na hell? Mayuyulang i guitala-hu! Ti hu hulat umusa iyo-ku fuetsan estreyas!
(What the hell? My guitar is breaking. I can’t use my star power)
(Flip it over!) NOTE: “Salamanka” can also mean “to trick” or “to slide or slip.” In this case it means to literally “flip the guitar head over heels.”
Jose: Na’atlibas brodie! Un na’batsasala pappa’ ham!
(Turn it upside down dumb ass. You’re dragging us down!) NOTE: “Batsala” means to literally drag something.
Miget: Atlibas!? Hafa hianssosso-mu? Ti Jimi Hendrix yu’!
(Upside down? What are you thinking? I’m not Jimi Hendrix!)
Francisco: Yute’ kontra i paddet!
(Throw it against the wall!) NOTE: “Paddet” only refers to concrete walls.
Miget: Pakaka’! Lakisao, ti siña yu’…laña’, matai ha’.
(Shut up! Shit, I can’t…damn, I just died)
Juan: Nangga un råtu, ya bai hu goggue hao.
(Wait a sec and I’ll save you.)
Jose: Hafa i sinienten-mimiyu mientras ta dandandan este na kanta?
(What are you guys feeling as we play this song?)
Miget: Kalang mahlok i tatancho-ku.
(Like my pointer finger has been fractured)
Jose: Boyok ha’ brodie!
(Spit it out stupid!) NOTE: “Boyok” means to literally “spit out” like a mouthful of food.
Jose: Kao un tungo’ na este na kanta put i Mannatibu Amerikånu annai i Amerkiånu ma sagåyi i tano’-ñiha.
(Do you know that this song is about the Native Americans when the white Americans colonized their lands?)
Miget: Oh, ya kalang put Hita lokkue’? Sa’ mannatibu hit lokkue’?
(Oh, so you mean its kind of about us since we’re indigenous also?)
Jose: Fantrankilu! Estague iyo-ku “solo.”
(Settle down! Here’s my solo!)
Francisco: Mungga masulon!
(Don’t slip!) NOTE: The spirit of the comment is “don’t mess up” but sulon literally means “to slip, to slide.”
Juan: Poddong poddong! Guahlo’ guahlo’!
(Fall fall! Fail fail!)
Jose: Laña, ti ya-hu este na klasin kanta. Kulang manmatgan esta i kalulot-hu siha.
Shit, I hate this kind of song. Its like my fingers have already fallen off.)
Miget: Makpo’! Ya ma na’i hao ni’ “Maolek na solo” premu.
(Done! And look they gave you a “good solo” award)
Francisco: Mas kapas hao kinu Si Felix Camacho!
(You’re more capable then Felix Camacho!)
Jose: Ahe’ ti siña umbee. Guiya i ma’gas este na isla, yan i ma’gas mangguitatala lokkue’!
(No way, it can’t be. He’s the boss of this island and the boss of guitar playing too!)
Juan: Laña’! Asi’i yu’, ti hu hasngon umusa iyo-ku fuestsan estreyas.
(Crap, forgive me, I didn’t mean to use my star power)
Miget: Tåya’ guaha. Kana’ esta makpo’ este.
(Its ok, the song’s almost over)
Francisco: Atan ha’. Kuatro estreyas ha’ på’go. Kao ta langak humagu’i singko?
(Look, we’re only four stars right now. Can we reach five?)
Jose: Dandan ha’, ya puede ha’ siña!
(Just play and hopefully we can!)
Juan: Sin mas linachi! Kontat ki mantailinachi hit siña ha’!
(No more mistakes! As long as we don’t screw up we’ll make it!)
Francisco: Kaksaka na Iron Maiden. Hu gof chatli’e hamyo!
(Cocksucking Iron Maiden. I really hate you!)
Jose: Hu konfotme nai. Nihi ta puno’ todu i ga-ñiha siha!
(I agree. Let’s kill all their animals!) NOTE: I was trying to think of what would be good lancheru hater slang, and this is what I came up with. It was inspired by the late Senator Alfred S.N. Flores. He ran for Senator based on his farming, grassroots experience and his most infamous slogan was “Bai Hu Puno’ I Toru” or “I Will Kill the Bull.”
Miget: Nooooo! Humaku i kalalot-hu siha. Ti siña hu konsigi’!
(Nooooo! My fingers are paralyzed! I can’t keep going!)
Juan: Laña’, taibali esta este!
(Shit this is worthless!)
Francisco: Makpo’! Ya yo’ase Si Yu’us sa’ manla’la’la’ ha’ hit!
(Finished! God is so merciful since we are all still alive!) NOTE: “Yo’ase” is a more intense and deeper version of “ma’ase” or “to be merciful” or “have mercy.” It is a word which at least in my experience most people reserve for “God-like” levels of mercy.
Jose: Kuatro na estreyas ha’! Hafa na klasin ti magåhet na danderu hit?
(Four stars? What kind of fake musicians are we?)
Miget: Despensa yu’, agang magi i mediku!
(I’m sorry, please call a doctor!)
Juan: Un biahi ta’lo, pues bei agang i mediku. Debi di ta taka’ singko na estreyas!
(One more time and then I’ll call the doctor. We have to reach five stars!)
Miget: Pues nihi! Biba Rock Star Band!
(Ok, let’s do it! Long live Rock Star Band!)