Vowel Harmony

Vowel Harmony is a linguistic term that refers to the constraints that certain vowels have on what other vowels may be next to them. In Chamorro, the constraint is on the vowel i, which is the definite object marker.

The following sound changes occur in the first syllable of a word when it is preceded by i.

  1. When the first syllable of a word has an å:
    tåsi (sea)  –> i tasimåta (eyes) –> i matalåpes (pencil) –> i lapes
  2. When the first syllable of a word has an o:
    kostat (sack) –> i kestattokcha’ (spear) –> i tekcha’donne’ (hot pepper) –> i denne’

     

  3. When the first syllable of a word has an u:
    uchan (rain) –> i ichanpulan (moon) –> i pilangupot (party) –> i gipot

The vowel also occurs in the preposition gi, meaning at/on/in, and the negator ti, so if a word is preceded by either of these words, the same vowel harmony rules apply.

gupot –> gi gipot (at the party)

gof (very) maolek –> ti gef maolek

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Confirming Stereotypes or Preconceptions

Two expressions that we use to confirm stereotypes or preconceptions are:

  1. Guiya muna’fatto…

              +                          Reason for Behavior or Quality
  2. Basta ki… 

These expressions are used in situations where people perform actions or display qualities that support a stereotype or a preconception about the group they belong to. These groups can be anything from race to geographic location, as long as some label can be applied. To make these comments is to state that the actions and/or qualities are to be expected from them due to the fact that they belong to that group. Though it may seem that these sentences would be used only in negative circumstances, this is not the case. They can be said to state a mere fact.

Examples:

  1. He bought the cheapest shoes in the store! Hmph! Basta ki Chinu! (on the stereotype that Chinese are cheap)
  2. Wow, you know all these roads here on the mainland! Basta ki mapoksai sanlagu hao. (on the fact that the person was raised in the States) 
  3. So, she was mean to you? Guiya muna’fatto hagan Bernadita. (nothing less should be expected of Bernadita’s daughter, implying that Bernadita is the same way)

 

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The conditional marker mohon

The conditional mohon serves as a marker indicating that the proposed condition is more favorable than the current one.

Example 1:

Juan:                Un chuli’i yo’ Pepsi? Coke mohon.
                           You got me a Pepsi? It should’ve been Coke.

Example 2:

Maria:              Mana’i si Tito ni scholarship. Guahu mohon.
                          Tito was given the scholarship. It should’ve been me.

Mohon is also used to indicate hypothetical situations or situations that are now too late for their condition and their result to exist.

Examples:

Chumochochu yo’ mohon yanggen mamahan hao nengkanno’.
I’d be eating if you had bought food.

Mafatto yo’ mohon Guam yanggen ti pumakyu.
I’d be arriving in Guam, if it didn’t storm.

Humugando yo’ mohon, lao gof malangu yo’.
I would’ve played, but I’m very sick.

Masisinek yo’ mohon yanggen guaha papet komun.
I would be taking a dump right now if there was toilet paper.

Because it is a conditional marker mohon is often used in conjunction with yanggen in the expression yanggen mohon.

Examples:

Yanggen mohon humanao hao para i tenda, esta mama’titinas yo’ titiyas.
If you had gone to the store, I would be making titiyas right now.

Yanggen mohon hu tungo’ na gaige hao gi espitat, bai hu bisita hao.
If I had known you were in the hospital, I would’ve visited you.

When used in a question, mohon acts as a marker requesting an opinion.

Manu mohon na manggaigi?
Where do you think they are?

Ngai’an mohon na ta fanali’i?
When do you think we all should meet?

Håyi mohon manggana gi ileksion?
Who do you think won in the election?

When used in conjunction with who, what, when, where, why and how questions, mohon usually follows the question word.

 

Other expressions commonly used with mohon:

Ohala mohon  ….

In rapid speech ohala is often pronounced as “ola”. The expression is used to confer  a desire for an alternate condition.

Examples:

Ohala mohon uchan.               I wish it would rain. Or If only it would rain.

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Chamorro Vocabulary for Things Around the House

Kuåtton i Gima’ Siha – Rooms of the House

apusento        bedroom
såla                  living room
kusina            kitchen
kommon        bathroom; toilet (when one uses this word they are referring
to  the room with the toilet)
båñu               bathroom
kusinan sanhiyong    kusinan sanhiyong

Kosas i Kuåtto – Things of the Room

gi apusento…
kama / katre      bed
alunan                 pillow
såbanas               blanket
aparadot             dresser, closet for clothes   

gi sala…
sofa        sofa, couch

gi kusina…
kåhon ais    refrigerator (lit. “ice box”)
foggon        stove
hotno        oven
labadot    sink
grifu           faucet
na’yan       dishes
aparadot na’yan    pantry, cupboard

gi kemmon…
påppet etgue / påppet kommon**    toilet paper
espehos    mirror

Otro Palabra – Other Words
luga        wall
kisåme   ceiling
åtof        roof
bentåna    window
satge        floor

Betbo Siha – Verbs

maigo’        sleep
fakmåta     wake up
fa’tinas       to make, to cook
na’gasgas  to clean
båli             to sweep
lampaso   to mop
fa’gasi        to wash
arekla        to fix, to arrange

Chamorro House

Names of the Rooms in a Chamorro House

Cultural Notes

The kusinan sanhiyong, or outside kitchen, is a common and significant feature of Chamorro homes. The kusinan sanhiyongis a necessary addition to all Chamorro homes for the reason that the traditional kitchen inside lacks the space required to prepare huge quantities of food. A typical Chamorro household will often be required to prepare food for a fiesta, a lisåyu*, or regular gupot** like birthdays or christenings. Preparing food in large quantities takes a significant amount of labor, and oftentimes this requires the help of many family members.

* a rosary
** a party

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UM Verbs

UM verbs are a class of verbs that use the Yo’-type pronouns as the Subject pronouns – when the pronoun is the subject of the sentence. They are called UM verbs here because the affix um is used to conjugate these verbs. There are actually two affixes that are used to conjugate UM verbs, the first is UM and the second is MAN. Both will be explained here.

To conjugate with UM, there are two cases you must look for:

1) If the verb begins with a vowel simply prefix the verb with um and you have your first conjugation.

Example:   o’mak  -> umo’mak          to bathe

2) If the verb begins with a consonant, you insert um into the first Consonant-Vowel pair in the first syllable.

Example:   kati -> kumati      to cry

The forms umo’mak and kumati are the “completed” forms of the verbs.

Umo’mak yo’.    I bathed. / I showered.

Kumati yo’.    I cried.

To conjugate the “continuous” form of the verb, the verb needs to undergo reduplication. Reduplication is when we repeat a syllable in a word.

1) With vowel-initial words, we simply need to reduplicate the vowel, but separating the duplicates with a glottal stop.

Example:  o’mak -> umo’mak -> umo’o’mak

2) If the word begins with a consonant, we take the syllable that is the second to the last syllable in the word.

Example:    kanta -> kumanta -> kumakanta          ;     kanta (2 syllables)    to sing
hugando -> humugando -> humugagando    ; hugando (3 syllables)    to play

NOTE: If the syllable contains more than just a consonant and vowel pair (like GAN in hugando), you need to duplicate only the first consonant-vowel pair.

The forms umo’o’mak, kumakanta, and humugagando are the “continuous” forms of the verbs.

Umo’o’mak yo’.        I’m bathing.
Kumakanta yo’.        I’m singing.
Humugagando yo’.  I’m playing.

Dual Case

When a plural pronouns is used with a verb conjugated with um the pronoun refers to only TWO people.

Examples:

Bumabaila ham.    We are dancing.   (Someone and I are dancing.)

Bumabaila hit.   We are dancing.    (You and I are dancing.)

Bumabaila hamyo. You two are dancing.

Bumabaila siha.  They (2) are dancing.

Plural Case

To express the subject refers to three or more people, we use the plural prefix MAN.

Example:
Humanao siha.  They went. (2)

Manhanao siha. They went. (3+)

 maN          Verb Initial  Result  Example
 man b mb  man + baila -> mambaila
 man p mp  man + peska -> mampeska
 man f mam  man + faisen -> mamaisen
 man t man  man + ta’yok -> mana’yok
 man s mañ  man + såga -> mañåga
 man ch mañ  man + chochu -> mañochu
 man k mang  man + kåti -> mangåti
 man g mangg  man + gimen -> manggimen

UM Verb List

  • kånta
  • kåti
  • baila
  • tånges
  • chefla
  • gimen
  • o’mak
  • ekungok
  • kuentos
  • peska
  • pasehu
  • hugåndo
  • hånao
  • tohge
  • essitan
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