April 23, 2018
What does “Hafa Adai” mean?
Hafa adai! You hear it everywhere throughout the Mariana Islands, at the airport, hotel and when you enter various establishments. It’s often translated as “hello”, but what does it really mean? This ubiquitous Chamorro greeting is basically a question that asks “What’s up?” or “What’s going on?” It’s understood by native speakers of Chamorro as a casual greeting often said to those they know. Nowadays, due to its extensive use in the tourism industry, it’s used as a general greeting by everyone in the islands.
Håfa in Chamorro is the question word “what” and adai has no literal English equivalent. Though written as a-d-a-i, in the greeting, the word is often pronounced simply as “day”. To tell someone håfa adai you would say “huh-fah-day”.
“Hafa adai” in Chamorro music
Probably the most well-known song which includes the greeting is the “Hafa Adai” song by Chamorro singer Johnny Sablan.