Saturday, May 04, 2013

Adventures in Chamorro

Speaking Chamorro to young kids is alot of fun. You end up having to create alot of interesting words in order to describe things both in terms of technology and popular culture. Since I always speak Chamorro to my kids I have to find ways to talk about things in Chamorro, that most Chamorros never imagined they'd ever have to talk about. Superheroes, talking animals, cartoons, robots, and mythical creatures are just some of the things we have to talk about on a daily basis. I enjoy this creative aspect of the language. It is something that Chamorros have sadly lost over time.

I've started writing about some of these interesting things on my Facebook page. I've titled them "Adventures in Chamorro" and I wanted to share some of them below:

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Adventures in Chamorro #1: Akli'e' is a big fan of Superman, but how do you say "Superman" gi fino' Chamoru? There are several possibilities but I eventually settled on "Geflahi." The reason for this choice is because of the way "gof" which means "very" used to be a prefix for words in order to make clear that they were a level about the rest. When adding "gof" to a word it meant that you were exceptionally skilled at something. "Geftaotao" was a possibility but is already taken since it is the original form of the term "geftao" which means to be generous or literally truly human. But since Superman technically isn't supposed to be human, even though he obviously is very generous with his time, I decided to use "lahi" for instead which translates to man, boy or son. "Geflahi" means that he is not just any man, but he is a super man.

Adventures in Chamorro #2: Akli'e' and Sumahi are both fans of Iron Man. Since blacksmithing is in the family they already know the word for iron or metal, "lulok." So would you say "Lulok na taotao" for "Iron Man." When Sumahi watched Iron Man 2 she disagreed with this name since Iron Man isn't really made of iron. He's not part spider like Spider Man, he just wears clothes that are made of iron and give him his powers. But "iron clothes" wouldn't make sense. There is an ancient word for armor "gnuga" which probably hasn't been spoken out loud in 200 years and so that wasn't right. I eventually decided to be more creative and decided to use the word "hima" or giant clam shell in order to indicate the armor or metal shell that Iron Man uses. So whenever we watch Iron Man, you will hear Akli'e' and Sumahi yell out "Lulok Hima!"

Adventures in Chamorro #3: Sumahi, like me, is a big fan of Optimus Prime. While watching the Transformers movie with Sumahi, the obvious question of how to translate "Transformer" into Chamorro came up. There are several words in Chamorro that mean something changing, shifting or being substituted, but the most commonly used word is "tulaika." In order to say something that is defined by its ability to change or transform, you would repeat the first syllable of the word and add emphasis to it. For Transformers we would say 'Titilaika." There is some ambiguity because "Titilaika" could be interpreted as something that changes or transforms other things, not necessarily itself. So if you ask Sumahi about Optimus Prime she will tell you that he is "i ma'gas i manmaolek na Titilaika siha" or "the boss of the good Transformers."

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