Saturday, February 28, 2015

Surviving Ha'anen Fino' Chamoru Ha'



Ha’anen Fino’ Chamoru Ha’ is just a few days away. I wrote about this in my column last week, but thought I would revisit it again for those who would like to learn more and hopefully participate. 

Ha’anen Fino’ Chamoru Ha’ boils down to this: On March 1st, those who accept this challenge are to spend the entire day only speaking Chamorro or if they are unable to, at least try to use as much Chamorro as possible, as much as they know or can. This challenge means that no matter who you are talking to or where you go on that day, Chamorro is the language that you will be using. If you are ordering food at Kings, do your best to order in Chamorro. If you are using your Whatsapp on that day, Whatsapp your circle of friends in Chamorro. 

After we first announced this challenge, one excited participant, Charmaine West, who currently lives in Idaho created a Facebook page, on which 74 people have already signed up to try their best on Sunday. Charmaine recently became a mother and so that experience has made her realize the importance of passing on Chamorro to her daughter, and so she has become an energetic presence on Facebook for learning and promoting the language. If you are Facebook savvy, please feel free to join the Ha’anen Fino’ Chamoru Ha’ group, people have been posting videos and articles and words of encouragement there. 

This past Sunday, Kenneth Gofigan Kuper and I held a small meeting with potential participants and talked about ways to strategize your interactions on Ha’anen Fino’ Chamoru Ha’, to make sure you get as much out of the experience as possible. For many people, trying to speak Chamorro for an entire day, no matter who you are talking to is a real challenge, but we are hoping people will tackle this challenge and therefore help enhance their own learning. One of the problems that people who try to learn Chamorro have is that English is so pervasive and so seductive, that people don’t push themselves to stay in the Chamorro language, but always switch to English when they have difficulty. This works both ways. Those who want to learn, when they hit a speed bump there is always the temptation to just switch to English to communicate. For those who know and can teach the language, there is always a feeling that you should just speak English anyways, since then you can be better understood. The problem with this is that no learning in Chamorro takes place. The chance for learning appears, but the ease of English prevents it. 

One reason that we choose to set this challenge for March 1st is because it is a Sunday and many people may be able to more freely organize their schedule on that day. When I am confronted with people who want to learn Chamorro I always tell them to look at their lives, their social network and think of who they know that can speak Chamorro. Begin to spend more time with those people and encourage them to teach you when you interact. For Ha’anen Fino’ Chamoru Ha’, you can easily make a Chamorro language tour of the island. Go and visit a grandparent, an uncle, an aunt, a nino or nina, a co-worker, a cashier at K-Mart, anyone. Design your day to include as many of these people as possible and tell them ahead of time the importance of supporting you and speaking Chamorro to you even if it is difficult. 

For those of you who have an older relative who grew up in the Chamorro language and for whom Chamorro is their first language, consider spending the day interviewing them in the Chamorro language. Have them tell their story, talk about their lives in Chamorro and even if you don’t understand know, make it a personal life goal to learn enough Chamorro to be able to understand what they said. For those elders their stories are often different if spoken in Chamorro, other details are included or excluded, other feelings are emphasized. What better testament to them and goal for yourself than to have them create that record of their lives in the Chamorro language and have yourself work towards unlocking their story?

Finally, on Sunday we shared a list of basic phrases that can help you on Sunday should you accept this challenge. I’ve listed them below. Good luck to all of those who decide to participate in Ha’anen Fino’ Chamoru Ha’. Remember, anggen un lå’la’ gi Fino’ Chamoru, un na’lå’la’ i Fino’ Chamoru.
  1. Hello! – Håfa Adai
  2. What is this? – Håfa este?
  3. What is that (near you)? – Håfa enao?
  4. What is that (away from you and person you’re talking to)? – Håfa ayu?
  5. How do you say________ in Chamorro? – Taimanu un sångan______ gi Fino’ Chamoru?
    Ex: How do you say “deer” in Chamorro? – Taimanu un sångan “deer” gi Fino’ Chamoru?
  6. What does______ mean? – Hafa kumekeilek-ña ______?
    Ex: What does “matatnga?” mean? – Hafa kumekeilek-ña “matatnga?”
  7. Speak to me in Chamorro please- Fino’ Chamoruyi yu’ pot fabot.
  8. Please say that again- Sångan enao ta’lo pot fabot
  9. Slower please – Ladispasiao put fabot.
  10. What are you doing? – Hafa bidadå-mu?
  11. 10. What am I doing? – Hafa bidadå-hu?
  12. Excuse me. - Dispensa’ yu’.
  13. How are you? - Hafa tatatmanu hao?
  14. Can you help me? – Kao siña un ayuda yu’?
  15. I want to know how to speak Chamorro – Malago’ yu’ tumungo’ taimanu fumino’ Chamoru.

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