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.
- 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.
- maipi i pachot literally means “the mouth is hot.” The expression describes someone whose conversations appear to become reality.
- 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.
- matåla’ literally means “to be hung out to dry.” Refers to an outgoing person; someone who is extroverted.
- 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.
- 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.”
- mafak i platu means “the plate is broken”. It refers to a relationship that’s completely broken; one that cannot be repaired or put back together.