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.
- When the first syllable of a word has an å:
tåsi (sea) –> i tasimåta (eyes) –> i matalåpes (pencil) –> i lapes
- When the first syllable of a word has an o:
kostat (sack) –> i kestattokcha’ (spear) –> i tekcha’donne’ (hot pepper) –> i denne’
- When the first syllable of a word has an u:
uchan (rain) –> i ichanpulan (moon) –> i pilangupot (party) –> i gipot
The vowel i 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