Thursday, June 18, 2015

Fino' Chamoru na Inadaggao Ta'lo

I started a website five years ago titled "Fino' Chamoru na Inadaggao" meaning a forum for debating or discussing the Chamorro language. This was initially mean to be a website that would support a series of Chamoru Language Senatorial forums held during the 2010 Guam election. From October 19th - 21st that year, all the Guam Legislature hopefuls were invited to a forum where they would be asked questions in the Chamorro language and be encouraged to respond in the Chamorro language. Now as you might imagine/know, in 2010 and 2015 the overwhelming majority of local politicians, including those who are Chamorro, cannot speak the Chamorro language. Because of this, each participant was given the question ahead of time, so as to allow them time to translate the questions and prepare their answers in either English or Chamorro. Candidate were also allowed to have interpreters on stage with them, sitting behind them in case they had trouble following along or remembering which question was which. I got to participate in several such forums or inadaggao siha as both a student and professor at UOG and it was such an interesting experience. On the one hand I got to spend time organizing with people who are on the frontlines of keeping the Chamorro language relevant today, or revitalizing it and making it something that politicians feel they need to know or at least pay respect to. I got to work with my former professors at UOG, language activists from Department of Education classrooms and members of the community who burn with passion for protecting the Chamorro language.  But on the other hand, over the years I got to see so many politicians not take the forum seriously. I got to see many gubernatorial and senatorial candidates come to UOG and pay lip service in English for their love of Chamorro and then do close to nothing to support the Chamorro language once they were elected. I got to see wonderful candidates for higher office who spoke beautiful and eloquent Chamorro get judged unfairly by others because they felt insecure about their inability to speak Chamorro.

The Chamorro Language Forums I helped organized represented the ways our people are still strong and not ready to give in to the weight and apathy that centuries of colonization have placed over our heads and minds. But it also represented the way so many, the majority of the Chamorro people have given up, don't really care to protect and defend our heritage and our legacy from our ancestors.

The word "inadaggao" is made up of several parts. The root word is "daggao" meaning to throw, generally as in tossing or hurling something. Interestingly enough three words for "throwing" things in Chamorro, also have slang or colloquial meanings. Yute', which translates to "throw away" also bears the meaning of "breaking up" or "ending a relationship" or to "disown or disavow." Yotte means "to toss" or "to cast, as in a net" or simply to hurl or sling something. It is also used to describe the traditional art of Chamoritta or kantan Chamoritta where people "throw" songs back and forth to each other in an improvised manner. Daggao is the one most commonly associated with the generic idea of throwing, but it can also mean to throw insults at each other, or even ideas, as in a debate.

The next part of the word is the "a-" which is a reciprocal prefix marker. When attached to daggao the meaning changes from "to throw" to "throw to each other." This prefix is commonly used, but most well known in the concept "inafa'maolek" where the a- gives it the ultimate meaning of being a reciprocal process between people and not just a unidirectional intervention of making things better.

The last part is the -in- infix. As an infix it normally appears inside of a word when it is used, but since "adaggao" begins with a vowel it becomes a prefix at the front, henceforth "inadaggao." -In- has many uses, but it is best known today as a nominalizer, or something that transforms words into nouns. This can be found in transformations such as:

magof = happy
minagof = happiness

magahet = real, true
minagahet = reality, truth

gefpågo = beautiful
ginefpågo = beauty

This is a simplistic explanation for a part of speech that is truly very complex, and so of its functions are becoming less and less actively used and its potential meanings being limited due to lower levels of creative fluency. But this makes clear that the meaning of the full term "inadaggao" is meant to be something akin to "the process/act of tossing ideas to each other." This is the term that Peter Ondera, former Chamorro language professor at UOG coined in order to give a more Chamorro appropriate meaning to the forums he was organizing.

I am writing about this today, because I am considering reviving the Fino' Chamoru na Inadaggao website soon, and working to make it an archive for news stories or information connected to the Chamorro language and its preservation/revitalization. If you are interested in helping me with this project please contact me at Si Yu'us Ma'ase.

Below is an article from KUAM about one such Inadaggao held in 2007 for a special election.


Political forum to be held in Chamoru

Updated: Dec 27, 2007 1:23 AM 
A Chamoru language political forum will be held next Wednesday at the University of Guam class lecture hall. The forum is being hosted by professor Peter Onedera's December intercession classes. The senatorial candidates in January's special election will be fielded questions in Chamorro and they must respond accordingly in Guam's native language.

The forum is scheduled for next Wednesday, January 2, from 6-9pm. The event is free and open to the public.

Senatorial candidates Tom Ada, B.J. Cruz and Telo Taitague will be fielded questions by the Chamoru speaking community and must respond accordingly in the Chamoru language. Interpreters for each candidate will be allowed to share the stage with the candidates but will not be allowed to speak on their behalf. The event is free and open to the public and anyone from the community will be allowed only one question that will not exceed one minute. Questions must be asked in the Chamoru language. Issues affecting the Chamoru community are encouraged to be addressed by the questioner and the senatorial candidates.

In addition, a mock election will be conducted by the students where results will be counted, tabulated and announced at the end of the forum.

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