What does “dalai” mean?
The expression dalai
The Chamorro word dalai, pronounced da-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. It is often used in statements where one expects that anyone with some common sense would’ve done the right thing or at least what was expected someone in their situation would do.
Most of these sentences are in complete Chamorro, while the last I’ve included an example of 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.)
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?
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