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For the Love of Language

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When San Vitores first came to the Marianas the Chamoru people were largely accepting of the new religion for a few reasons. The Spanish offered gifts to those who converted to the new religion, including sometimes precious  lulok or metal. They were the newest hottest thing on the island. Exciting simply because it was different, like when Applebee's or McDonald's first came to Guam. Some converted seeing the chance for greater power by being closer to those that they perceived might shake up island hierarchies. Some may have followed the new religion, because it truly spoke to them.  But one of the things that helped San Vitores win over the people in many ways was his ability to speak to them in Chamoru. Chamorus had interacted with Europeans for more than a century at that point via hand gestures and sailors from the Philippines and Southeast Asia who were able to communicate using Austronesian terms with the Chamorus they encountered. Spaniards, Filipinos and African slave

Interview with Leland Bettis

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T his week's Fanachu! episode will feature Leland Bettis, former Executive Director for the  Guam Commission on Decolonization and Commission on Self-Determination. He was involved in negotiations around the movement for Commonwealth in Guam and also part of educational campaigns around political status in the 1980s and 1990s. The episode will go live on Facebook at 11 am this Wednesday (2/10), Chamorro Standard Time. I'm very excited to talk more with Leland Bettis, who has such a wealth of knowledge the recent historical movements for political status change in Guam and also just negotiating with the federal government around these issues.  Below is an article from the Christian Science Monitor from 1998 when he was still in GovGuam service, talking about the status issue and the need for decolonization on the even of then President Bill Clinton's visit to Guam.  ********************************* Identity struggle of an American Pacific island President Clinton visits Gua

Un Interesånte na Finaisen...

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Kao guaha manli'e' hao guali'ek gi tasi yan kumekemåtmos gui'. Ha å'agang hao gi i batko-mu lao tåya' nina'sinå-mu. Manli'e' hao gekpu na kabåyu gi i mapagåhes ya un agångi gui' kao siña ha goggue i mamåtmos na guali'ek. Lao i kabåyu achokka' malåte' gui' ti siña ha komprende i fino'-mu sa' kabåyu gui'. Lao ti un embestiga sa' hafa na siña un komprende i guali'ek lao i kabåyu ti ha hulat kumomprende hao. Un hasso na gaige gi halom i betså-mu un lepblo put taimanu na siña hao mamå'tinas "tilifon para i kabåyu." Anggen siña un få'tinas este siña komprendeyon i kuentos-mu nu i gumugupu na kabåyu. Un tutuhun fumå'titinas i tilifon yan ha ayuda hao i mas mafñot na ga'chong-mu Si Maga'låhi Hurao. An munhåyan hao un oño chaddek i buttones gi i tilifon lao tåya' humuyong. Un atan i santatten i tilifon yan un komprende på'go na taibatteria gui'. Ti siña humånao hao para i tenda

San Vitores

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Un diha siempre bai hu fannge' lepblo put i historian i taotao-ta. Esta meggai na kadada na tinige'-hu put este, lao i guinife-hu mohon na un diha bai hu puno' i toru yan na'magåhet este gi un kabåles na lepblo. Lao siempre este na lepblo u matuge' gi Fino' Ingles, ya guaha påtte siha matuge' gi Fino' Chamoru lokke'. Esta gof libiånu para Guahu, para bei estoriåyi taotao nu i hestoria-ta gi Fino' Ingles, lao guaha na biahi debi di bei lachandan maisa para bei cho'gue este lokkue' gi Fino' Chamoru.  Put este na motibu-hu guaha na biahi, mañule' yu' påtten hestoria-ta, ya hu ketuge' put guiya gi Fino' Chamoru. Sesso i inayek-hu put este, ti sen interesånte, gi Fino' Ingles "basic" pat gi Fino' i tatan bihu-hu "mata'pang."  Put hemplo, a'atan este guini gi sampapa', ni' tinige'-hu put si San Vitores. Ti hu guaiya si San Vitores, ti ya-hu meggai put i hestoria-ña, lao hu tung

The Flow of I Fino'-ta

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One of the earliest Chamoru translations of an American pop song I ever did.  I came across it recently while I was searching on some old external hard drives.  It is to the tune of the Coldplay song "Clocks"which came out in 2002.  I remember I had started translating the song, working to come up with some basic lyrics.  I was hindered in my translation by the fact that the title frankly, gi minagahet was weird or sucked in Chamoru.  Clocks, didn't make sense in Chamoru. It may barely make sense in English for the song gi minagahet.  "Reloh siha" mungga yu' nu enao lol.  This was very early in my Chamoru learning journey, I was functionally fluent, but still making mistakes all the time and my Chamoru sounded like it was stiff and dry, straight out of a grammar book, because I lacked the basic organic feeling of being part of a language community.  The ways that emerge sometimes for an individual, a family, a village, a people to build off of the rules. To

Chule' Este Tinestigu

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A few times each year I testify publicly on Guam about something.  Usually it is at the Guam Legislature over a bill or a resolution or as part of a hearing.  Regardless of what the topic is, I try to do it in Chamoru, especially if I have time to prepare my written comments ahead of time, so they go into the public record.  Chamoru is a national language for Guam, which means that it can be used regularly for public activities and public representations.  Official documents can be in both Chamoru and English. Signage around the island can be bilingual.  The fact that Chamoru is an official and national language of Guam is something that many indigenous groups around the world might be envious of, since it provides for a far amount of existing legitimacy and social/political power.  You don't have to fight for recognition, since the law already accepts it. But sadly we don't do more to build off to this.  It could begin in simple ways, such as public signage and go from there. 

Nåpon Minahålang

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No one ever fully knows a language, and that is always an interesting way of reminding people that a language is, first and foremost, a social organism. It connects people. It exists to connect and express connections.  But as no one ever fully knows a language, it means that even those who use it everyday are always still learning in the language. There is always more to know, as a language is always belong what a single person can know or do. One way that I have continued to learn and grow in the language is by translating songs from English, regularly into Chamoru. At this point, I've translated hundreds of pop songs, rock songs, hip hop songs, country, punk, alternative, emo, ska, at this point just about any genre you can imagine, I've probably translated at least one song from it, into the Chamoru language.  Sometimes I try to keep the original intention and metaphor of the song, other times I completely abandon it. Sometimes even the tune of the song itself, its flow get