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Category: Chamorro Phrases

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.

13. Todu gusto, siempre disgusto.

Literal translation: All pleasures will become displeasures.

Meaning: Like the saying “Too much of a good thing”, an excessive amount of something enjoyable will make you sick or will eventually be the source of your displeasure.

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Examples of Chamorro Idioms

Idioms are phrases that have meanings different from the literal translation. Their use reflects a greater understanding of the language and for the second-language learner is one of the most difficult things to master. Imagine having to master grammar and memorize vocabulary only to learn that you’ve barely scratched the surface of your understanding.

Examples of idioms in English are:

  • Break a leg – Good luck!
  • Call it a day – Stop working on something.
  • Once in a blue moon – Something that doesn’t occur very often.

Chamorro Phrases as Idioms

The following is a list of Chamorro idioms, along with the literal meaning and the colloquial meaning.

  1. matai ñålang literally means “to have died of hunger”. The phrase is used to express that someone is famished, that they’re about to die of starvation.
  2. maipi i pachot literally means “the mouth is hot.” The expression describes someone whose conversations appear to become reality.
  3. mababa literally means “open” or “to be opened”, referring to a person who may have once been timid and is starting to become more social.
  4. matåla’ literally means “to be hung out to dry.” Refers to an outgoing person; someone who is extroverted.
  5. Ha leleggua’ i kichalå-ña literally means “she is stirring her spoon.” Sometimes shortened to just ha leleggua’ gue’, or “she’s stirring herself.” The phrase refers to someone who overhears a conversation but does not fully grasp what is being said and then attempts to be part of the conversation.
  6. dinanche literally means “to have hit the target”, that is, a person aiming to hit something and did. This is how we express that something is “correct,” as in “not wrong.”
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How to say “Happy Birthday” in Chamorro

happy birthday to you

There are few ways to say “Happy Birthday” in Chamorro. One way is felis kumpleaños, which comes from the Spanish birthday greeting feliz cumpleañosAnother way is to say biba kumpleañoswhich roughly translates to something like “hurray, it’s your birthday!” or “yay, your birthday!” In Chamorro the word kumpleaños is used to mean both birthday and anniversary as the word itself is understood literally from its components, kumple, to complete, and años, meaning years. Another greeting you can use is biba ha’ånen mafañågu-mu, which is “hurray for the day of your birth!”

Try using a birthday greeting with someone:

Felis kumpleaños, ____________________.

Chamorro English
nåna mother
tåta father
nånan biha grandmother
tåtan bihu grandfather
tia aunt
tiu uncle
prima cousin (female)
primu cousin (male)
amiga / amigu / ga’chong friend
guinaiya-ku my love
korason-hu my heart
asagua-hu my husband/wife (lit. “my spouse”)
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How to say “I miss you” in Chamorro

i miss you

To say “I miss you” in Chamorro, you say “Mahålang yu’ nu hågu.”

I miss you mahålang yu’ nu hågu.

I miss you very much. gof mahålang yu’ nu hågu.

I miss you so much. sen mahålang yu’ nu hågu. (NOTE: sen here is like gof but a greater degree.)

 

Miss You (Singular vs. Plural)

The hågu in the phrase above is you singular. If you wanted to say “I miss you (all)”, you would have to say mahålang yu’ nu hamyo, where hamyo is the plural you.

hågu (second person singular pronoun)

hamyo (second person plural pronoun)

Examples

Håfa tatatmanu hao, Mom? – Mamaolek ha’, lao mahålang yu’ nu hågu.
How are you, Mom? – Still doing well, but I miss you.

Gof mahålang yu’ nu hamyo!
I miss you guys so much!

 

To Miss Someone Specific

To say that you miss a specific person, you will use the particle as instead of nu. Look at the following examples:

Mahålang yu’ as Chris.
I miss Chris.

Mahålang yu’ as nanå-hu.
I miss my mom.

Mahålang yu’ as nanå-hu biha.
I miss my grandmother.

Related Examples

Mahålang ham nu hågu.
We miss you. (The we here refers only to two people.)

Manmahålang ham nu hågu.
We miss you. (The we now refers to three or more people.)

Mahålang yu’ nu guiya.
I miss him/her.

Kåo mahålang hao nu guahu?
Do you miss me?

The following are other examples to express that you miss something. By now, you should’ve noted that mahålang yu’ is i miss and what follows depends on the object.

Mahålang yu’ nu Guam.
I miss Guam.

Mahålang yu’ nu i che’lu-hu låhi.
I miss my brother. (Literally, “I miss my male sibling.”)

Gof mahålang yu’ nu i fina’tinas nanå-hu biha.
I really miss my grandmother’s cooking.

Know how to say “I love you”  in Chamorro? Click here to find out how.

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