Friday, March 05, 2010

Life in Technicolor II: Learning Chamorro With Sumahi and Youtube #2

In December of last year I started a new feature on this blog titled "Learning Chamorro With Sumahi and Youtube," where I would pick a favorite video of i hagga-hu Sumahi from Youtube, and then list the Chamorro words which she usually uses to narrate the video as she watches it.

In recent months my time has become very scarce because of work and family obligations and so I don't get to spend as much time with Sumahi as I'd like. There isn't much time to go to the beach or take a walk in a park or do any sort of normal bonding activities, and so often times, late at night, watching Youtube videos as our way of connecting. She usually sits on my lap, bouncing up and down as she gets excited at what she sees on my laptop screen. Its hysterical, because some videos she's already watched probably hundreds of times, and so even whens he watches it time #101, she'll still laugh and scream at the exact same moment.

Unfortuantely, Sumahi's love of Youtube means that almost everytime I turn on my computer, she appears with a request to watch something. She'll approach me while I'm typing, with the cutest, pleading eyes and say something like "Kato. Malago bei egga' kato," meaning "I want to watch a cat." Or she'll say something cryptic, like "Bihu na guma'" which translates to "old man's house" or literally "old house," which means she wants to watch the preview for the movie Up.

Coldplay-Life In Technicolor ii HD
Uploaded by crytek2. - See the latest featured music videos.

One of Sumahi's first favorite videos on Youtube was the video for Life in Technicolor II for the band Coldplay. Sumahi loves this video for a variety of reasons. It has puppets in it, it has explosions ("pangpang" gi fino' Chamoru), and it has lots of otro baby siha or "other children." Sorry, that the embedded video isn't from Youtube, but we aren't allowed to embed that video any longer.

But without further ado, here's Sumahi's vocabulary for the video:


Muñeko: In Chamorro the word “muñeka” means doll, but Sumåhi has somehow made a distinction between dolls and puppets through the words “muñeka” and “muñeko.” Muñeko is what she refers to puppets as, with or without strings. Throughout this video, there are plenty of puppets and so Sumåhi regularly shouts out when she seems them, yelling what they are doing.

Tambot: A generic term for a drum in Chamorro. When the two puppets appear who are drumming, Sumåhi yells out, “tumamtambot i dos!” or “the two are drumming!”

Tatancho’: In modern Chamorro most people use the word “punto” to refer to point when refering to both the noun and the verb form. When I was learning Chamorro from my grandmother she taught me to use another term “tancho’” which when reduplicated becomes the word tatancho’ which literally means “the pointer” but is used to mean the “pointer finger.” At this point when watching the video, where the young girl points at the cover of her book, Sumåhi will either exclaim, “Ha a’atan i lepblo” (she’s looking at the book) or “Ha tatancho’ i taotao,” (she’s pointing at the man).

Miget: This is not authentic Chamorro, but when Sumåhi was learning to speak Chamorro and was watching me sing and play guitar on Rock Star Band, she would always ask me what I was singing into, in other words, what is the microphone called. Not knowing the real word for microphone in Chamorro (and assuming there wasn’t a decent one anyways) I told her that it was called “Si Miget.” So when the frontman muñeko sings into his micrphone in the video, Sumåhi says that “Ha kantåtayi Si Miget,” or “he’s singing to Mike.”

Maina: The name of a village on Guam, and also a word which means “to cast light on” or “to reveal or enlighten.” At this point in the video, where the lights on the stage are turned on and the the band is illuminated, Sumåhi will say “ma ina i muñeko,” or “the puppet had light put on him.”

Ta’yok: In the song, the line “my feet won’t touch the ground” is repeated several times. In most cases when it is sung, the frontman puppet will jump into the air. When he does Sumåhi naturally shouts that “tuma’yok i muñeko!” which means “the puppet jumped!”

Fo’na: At the point where the stage is extended forward so the singing puppet can walk in the direction of the crowd Sumåhi will say several things all related to the word “fo’na” meaning forward or front. She’ll say “ma na’fo’na gui” which means “they put it forward” referring to how the stage moves forward. When the puppet walks forward into the crowd Sumåhi says that “fumo’fo’na gui’” or “he’s moving forward.”

Pangpang: A word in Chamorro used to refer to something when it explodes. Sumåhi loves this word, which is why one of her favorite videos is also The Lonely Island’s “Cool Guys Don’t Look at Explosions.” When the pyrotechnics start going off, Sumåhi gleefully shrieks “pangpang!”

Totot: When the singer puppet dives into the crowd and is held up by the children there, Sumåhi screams out a lot of different things, but the most interesting one that she says is the word “totot” which means to lie on one’s back. Sometimes during this scene Sumåhi will say that “tumototot Si muñeko.”

Pannak: A generic term for hit, usually when you hit something with another object, for example pannak bola in Chamorro refers to a baseball bat. As the puppet band ends their song, one of the guitarists take his guitar and starts to smash the wall of speakers behind him, naturally this leads Sumåhi to say that “he papannak i guitala,” where she means to say that “he is hitting (something) which the guitar” but inadvertantly says that “he is hitting the guitar.” (Which I guess is still technically correct).

Pumaya’ya’ na Batko: There are plenty of things on Youtube for which I don’t know a “real” Chamorro word to call it, so I end up just making up some term to use with Sumåhi. Until World War II, Chamorros still tried to create words in their own language to refer to new introductions. Often times this just meant literally translating things or forming interesting combinations of imagery and meaning. So for instance an airplane is called “batkon aire” which means literally an “air boat.” A hot dog when it was first introduced around 90 years ago was jokingly called “maipen ga’lagu” which means literally a “hot dog.” For those things which came after World War II, Chamorros simply used an English term for them. So when in the end of this video a helicopter appears which takes the band away from the community center where they were performing, it created a little bit of a problem for when Sumåhi watched this video. At first she would ask if the helicopter was a “batkon aire,” and I would respond ahe’, or no, its not. But when she would look at me expectantly for what it was supposed to be called, I would hesitate on what would be the best name for it. Eventually I settled on “pumaya’ya’ na batko” which means a “gliding boat” or a “floating boat.” In hindsight I regret naming it that, because now when Sumåhi sees jets in movies I think that I could have used that name to name them as well.

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