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Useful Words to Describe Food in Chamorro

An Array of Fruits

In this post, we will take a look at some useful words you can learn to describe the food you eat in Chamorro. Maybe you’re eating a meal and you want to compliment and describe how some of the food tastes. The following are some basic adjectives we use to describe flavors.

This image illustrates some useful words to describe food tastes in Chamorro.

In English, 5 basic tastes we use daily to describe food are: Sweet, Spicy, Bitter, Sour and Salty.

Here’s how to say and use each of these words in Chamorro:

mames

The Chamorro word mames is used describe something “sweet.” You can use this word to describe fruits or desserts.

Mames i kek.
The cake is sweet.

pika

Pika is the Chamorro word used to describe something “spicy.” You can use this word to say that your fina’denne’ is too spicy, because you added too many chili peppers. If you’re not into spicy, you may want to stay from the Chamorro dish kaddon pika.

Kåo pika i karí?
Is the curry spicy?

Ya-ña si Guadalupe pika na kelaguen.
Guadalupe likes spicy kelaguen.

mala’et

Mala’et is how you say “bitter” in Chamorro. You use it to describe your coffee or maybe certain vegetables.

Ti ya-ña si Lucio mala’et na nengkanno’.
Lucio does not like bitter food.

ma’aksom

Ma’aksom is the Chamorro word for anything that’s “sour” or “tangy.” You may use this to describe citrus fruits or pickled foods.

Ti ma’aksom i fina’denne’-ña.
Her fina’denne’ is not sour.

ma’asen

Ma’asen is the Chamorro word for “salty.”

Bula mampos na asiga un na’yi, sa’ gof ma’asen pa’go.
You’ve added too much salt, because it is very salty now.

Ma’asen i hanom tåsi.
Seawater is salty.

Other Useful Adjectives to Describe Food

Here are more useful words you can use to describe how food tastes, smells, feels and more!

månnge’ – delicious

matå’pang – bland, tasteless

paopao – fragrant

mutong – smelly, stinky

maipe – hot

manengheng – cold

ånglo’ – dry

fotgon – wet

fresko – fresh

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Asking Questions in Chamorro

Asking Questions is a good way to learn new things in Chamorro, and is essential in daily life.

Kåo siña hao fumino’ Chamoru?
Can you speak Chamorro?

Månu na sumasaga hao?
Where do you live?

Håfa kumeke’ilek-mu?
What do you mean?

Yes/No Questions

In Chamorro, to ask a question that can be answered with hunggan or åhe’ is easy. You simply have to start off the question with the marker kåo.

StatementQuestion
Chumochu i patgon.
The child ate.
Kåo chumochu i patgon.
Did the child eat?
Asut i kareta.
The car is blue.
Kåo asut i kareta?
Is the car blue?
Lunes på’go.
Today is Monday.
Kåo Lunes på’go.
Is today Monday?
Ya-mu na’italianu.
You like Italian food.
Kåo ya-mu na’italianu?
Do you like Italian food?

Question Words

When asking questions that require a response beyond hunggan or åhe’, you’ll need to start off your question with a question word or phrase. Here is a list of some common Chamorro question words.

ChamorroEnglishChamorroEnglish
håyiwhohåfawhat
ngai’anwhenmånuwhere
sa’ håfawhytaimanuhow
kuånto, akuåntohow muchkuåntohow many
ginen manufrom wherepara håfafor what
para månuto wherepot håfaabout what

Here are some examples of Chamorro interrogative sentences.

Taimanu un fa’tinas i titiyas-mu?
How did you make your titiyas?

Para månu hao?
Where are you going? Where are you off to?

Ngai’an i fiestan San Jose?
When is the San Jose fiesta?

Månu na sumåsåga hao på’go?
Where do you live now?

Håyi i na’ån-ña?
What’s her name?

Kuånto un fåhan na gimen?
How many drinks did you buy?

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Ways to Say: How Are You in Chamorro

In this lesson we discuss the different ways to ask “how are you.” It’s a common question in most languages around the world, and there are many ways to say it in Chamorro. Why so many ways to ask the same thing? Well, for starters, varying how you ask helps you sound more like a native speaker and not a robot. Also, the form you choose may sound awkward or rude if asked to the wrong audience. But luckily for you, you’ve come to the right place, and you can avoid these pitfalls altogether. Ta tutuhon…let’s start!

  1. Actually asking someone “how are you?” This is the most common way of asking someone are you:

    Håfa tatatmanu hao?
    How are you?
  2. And here’s how to ask that same question to a group of people (3 or more people)

    Håfa manatatmanu hamyo?
    How are you all doing?

  3. Using the common Chamorro greeting Håfa Adai! Believe it or not, when someone says håfa adai, they’re saying hello by asking “how is it going?” This is similar to English when people say “how are you” as a greeting.If you actually want to know how someone is doing, you may want to ask “håfa tatatmanu hao?” or the next question…
  4. Ask if they are “still doing well”…Kåo mamaolek ha’? This is a common, less formal way of asking someone how they are. Use this with friends or with people you have some familiarity with.
  5. And more casually…mamaolek ha’? You’re omitting the question marker kåo, so be sure to say it with a question tone.
  6. And again addressing a group:Kåo manmamaolek ha’ hamyo?
    Are you (all) doing well?
  7. Asking how they’re feeling…Kao mamaolek ha’ i siniente-mu? Are you feeling well?

And, if you’re the one asked “how are you” in Chamorro, you might answer with one of the following:

  • Mamaolek ha’ yu’.  I’m still doing good.
  • Gof maolek. Very good.
  • Lamaolek i siniente-ku. I feel better.
  • Malångu  yu’. I’m sick.
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Examples of Chamorro Proverbs

A proverb is a saying that gives advice in an obscure way. The following Chamorro proverbs represent the values of the Mariana Islands and the Chamorro people. They are listed with the original Chamorro saying, its literal translation and the message being conveyed.

1. Munga mañuha ni ti gigao-mu.

Literal translation: Don’t remove the catch from a trap that isn’t yours.

Meaning: Don’t take what doesn’t belong to you.

2. Mientras mas meggai libetta-ña, mas meggai babå-ña.

Literal translation: While one has more free time, one has more foolery.

Meaning: It’s easy to find yourself engaging in mischief when you don’t have anything better to do. This is similar to the English proverb Idle hands are the devil’s workshop, which basically advocates for engaging yourself in some occupation so that the devil always finds you busy and less vulnerable to temptation.

3. Facho’cho’ ya un chochu.

Literal translation: Work and you will eat.

Meaning: This is pretty self-explanatory. Work and you will never be hungry. Similar sayings in English are hard work pays off or even no pain, no gain.

4. Un nota na tentasion nahong rason.

Literal translation: A hint of temptation is reason enough.

Meaning: Don’t allow yourself to be tempted to do something you don’t want to or shouldn’t do.

5. Maolekña manggågåo ya ti manå’i, ki manå’i ya ti ma’agradesi.

Literal translation: It is better that someone asks and it is refused than it be given and not appreciated.

Meaning: It is not as disappointing to see someone being refused something they’ve asked for than to see someone get what they ask for and not appreciate it.

6. An meggai sinangan-mu, meggai dinagi-mu.

Literal translation: The more you say, the more you lie.

Meaning: Great talker, great liar. When someone is a smooth talker, then they are probably a quicker liar.

7. Chagi ya munga madagi.

Literal translation: Try it and you will not be lied to.

Meaning: Experience is the best teacher. No one can trick or lie to you about something you’re familiar with.

8. Guse’ña un gacha’ un dakun ki un kohu.

Literal translation: You are more likely to catch a liar than a cripple.

Meaning: Liars always get caught.

9. Munga mañaluda nu i ti tihong-mu.

Literal translation: Don’t greet someone with a hat that doesn’t belong to you.

Meaning: Do not give away what is not yours to give.

10. I mesngon i manggånna

Literal translation: The one who can endure will be the winner.

Meaning: Anyone who perseveres will always end up winning in the end.

11. Sångan i guaguan.

Literal translation: Speak what is valuable.

Meaning: The word guaguan is usually understood as expensive or costly, but in this context, it can be understood as valuable. In other words, let your words be worth something. 

12. Ti mamaigo’ si Yu’us.

Literal translation: God does not sleep.

Meaning: Don’t forget this if you ever think of doing something bad. God is always watching.

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guaha and taya’

Guaha is used to indicate existence or possession. Tåya’ indicates non-existence or non-possession.

guaha – there is / there are

tåya’  – there isn’t / there aren’t

Examples showing existence and non-existence:

Guaha klas Chamoru gi Lunes yan Mietkoles.
There’s Chamorro class on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Guaha siette dias gi semåna.
There are seven days in a week.

Guaha dosse meses gi un año.
There are twelve months in a year.

Tåya’ klas gi Lunes sa’ Labor Day.
There is no class on Monday, because it is Labor Day.

Tåya’ taotao gi gima’ Yu’us.
There are no people in church.

Tåya’ ti un tungo’.
There is nothing you don’t know.

Examples showing possession and non-possession:

Guaha karetå-hu.
I have a car.

Guaha che’lu-ña palao’an.
He has a sister.

Guaha gima’-måmi.
We have a house. 

Tåya’ salåppe’-ña.
She has no money.

Tåya’ gimen-ta.
We have no drinks.

Kåo tåya’ maleffå-mu?
Did you forget anything? (lit. “Was there nothing you forgot?”)

Everyday Expressions: Tåya’ guaha! Literally meaning “there’s nothing!”, that is, there is no problem or issue, or something is of little consequence, and is the equivalent of the English expression “it’s no big deal!”

Examples of tåya’ guaha as a response:

MARIA:   Are you sure I can borrow your book?

LOLA:    Ai, tåya’ guaha! Oh, no big deal!

Or, asking for assurance:

MARIA:    Tåya’ guaha, if I use your computer?
                   No big deal if I use your computer?

LOLA:        Guse’ ha’. (or Tåya’ guaha!)
                    Just go right ahead.

Guaha and tåya’ are also used in other ways. It is often used with the linking particle na and can take on different meanings depending on what follows. 

With na, guaha and tåya’ can mean that there is/are “some” or “none” of something.

For example:

Guaha na taotao ti yan–ñiha matågo’.
Some people do not like to be told what to do.

Guaha na flores manggof paopao.
Some flowers are very fragrant.

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