Saturday, December 19, 2009

Here It Goes Again: Learning Chamorro With Sumahi and Youtube

Gof ya-ña Si Sumåhi umegga’ Youtube. Sa’ maseha hafa malago-ña para u egga’, siempre guaha mubi giya Youtube.

Although her love for Youtube can be debilitating at times, since when I’m working on my computer Sumåhi can suddenly appear at my side, requesting that I put her on my lap and that she be allowed to watch something on my laptop. I don’t know how many times, I’ll be responding to student emails, and Sumåhi will suddenly appear and ask that I show her “kaballo” or horses.

But what I really do like about Youtube, is that the videos there have been a great way of helping me teach Sumåhi Chamorro and expand her vocabulary. As she watches a video, I constantly point out things on the screen and tell her what’s going on. This is particularly important with verbs and actions, so she can see what is entailed in the word I am using and therefore better associate it with what she sees around her.

So what I’ve decided to do is pick one of Sumåhi favorite Youtube videos, and then paste it below, and provide a list of the things which she yells out when she’s watching. If you don’t speak Chamorro but are interested in learning, this simple and somewhat silly exercise could help you.

Sumåhi really loves the treadmill video for OK Go’s “Here it Goes Again.” I don’t know how to say treadmill in Chamorro other than “makinan malalågu,” but the treadmills aren’t what makes Sumåhi interested in the video. What she really likes is the jumping around and dancing that people do in the video. The youtube version of this has more than 40 million hit and so embedding has been disabled, so what I'm pasting below is the video from the website Daily Motion.

Sulon: To slide, as in something slippery or to glide across something. When watching the video, where the members of the band, slide across the treadmills like they are ice-skating, Sumåhi says “sumusulon i taotao” or the man is sliding.”

Ta’yok: The most commonly used word in the video, it means to jump. During the course of the video Sumåhi regularly says “tuma’yok i taotao” or the man jumped, or she says “mana’yok i taotao” or the men jumped.

Yutyai: To swing your arms or pump your arms when dancing. When people throw their hands up in the air, Sumåhi yells out “yutyai yutyai!”

Paha: A child’s play word, used for playing with tulompo, that means when something is spinning. When people spin around Sumåhi will sometimes use paha to say that they are spinning, or sometimes she’ll accidentally use the word “galilek” which means to roll on the ground.

Channo: It means to walk with very large steps, or swing one’s arms while walking. At different points in the video, the band members intentionally talk very large and deliberately flamboyant steps, and so when Sumåhi sees this she says “Chumachanno i lahi” or the man is taking big steps.

Malågu: To run. Manmalalågu siha or “they are running” is the most common phrase you’ll hear Sumåhi say throughout the course of this video.

Ana’i singko: Literally “to give each other five.” While running two band members give each other five. This is one of the few things that Sumåhi will engage with people about even if she’s nervous or suspicious. If she doesn’t know you or trust you, she won’t talk to you, smile at you, or even look at you. But if you ask her to “na’i singko.” She usually will.

Ma hatsa kannain-ñiha: At the end of the video, there is a point where all four band members are running on treadmills, but suddenly stop and raise their hands in the air. As a result, they are slowly pulled off screen. When they do Sumåhi sometimes yells triumphantly that “ma hatsan i kannain-ñiha” or “they raised their hands!”

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