When it comes to speaking Chamorro, most language resources will only include how one should say something. And so this is true for the Chamorro word for “yes”. Most books or even online resources will offer only the formal way to say “yes”, which is hunggan.
While there’s nothing wrong with saying hunggan all the time, a lot of Chamorro speakers tend to use the casual forms of yes in everyday conversation.
The most common response you’ll hear in a conversation will be hå’å, or its variants å’å, ha’a, or a’a. It would be like say yeah or yup.
Another way to say yes would be to say hu’u or u’u. While some speakers may use this as their default, casual response, there are some who interpret and use this to suggest irritation, as in “Yes, (I heard you!)” or “Yes, (I get it, no need to repeat yourself!)”
The Chamorro word dalai, pronounced dah-lie with stress on the “da”, has no equivalent in the English language. It is an expression used to convey disbelief that something is true due to some existing knowledge about the subject or situation.
Most of these sentences are completely in Chamorro, while the last few I’ve included to show how Chamorros speaking English continue to use this as it’s an important part of Chamorro conversation.
Dalai ya ti siña un hatsa i lamasa.
I can’t believe you can’t lift the table.
(You have muscles and look strong! / The table is so small/light/etc.)
Dalai ya ti ha tungo’ manu na gaige Safeway.
It’s unbelievable he doesn’t know where Safeway is.
(He’s lived here for how long? / Safeway is so close to his house!)
Dalai na dinidide’. I can’t believe how little.
(Who would be so stingy? / But he has lots!)
Dalai ya ti mafatto si Joe. Ti chågo’ i tenda. I can’t believe Joe hasn’t arrived yet. The store isn’t that far. (Joe went to a nearby store and is taking a while to return.)
Denise said she can’t come to the party? Dalai! She doesn’t work tomorrow.
(It is unbelievable because maybe Denise only refuses to go out when she has work the next day.)
Dalai! You cooked so much food!
(You are shocked because you know how many people need to be fed and how much food there is.)
Examples in Chamorro Music
This is Johnny Sablan’s song Dalai Nene. Johnny Sablan is a well-known recording artist from the island of Guam. Part of the song goes:
Dalai nene, ya ti un siesiente, i manaddong siha na inigong? How is it, baby, that you don’t feel (all) the deep groanings?