Saturday, September 29, 2007

Chamorro 411

Despite numerous claims of links to other languages, modern Chamorro is a hispanicized Austronesian language. The indigenous Austronesian aspect of the language still exists, however due to various visitors and occupants; the language is now colored in Asian and Anglo words in addition to the obvious Spanish roots.

While many may point the finger in the direction of Asia in regard to linguistic roots, the fact of the matter is that Chamorros migrated thousands of years ago from Asia as did the Native Americans. In fact, our genetics are not too far off from each other. So would you call someone of Navajo or Sioux descent an Asian? Certainly not. We don't all call ourselves Africans even though that is where we originated from. History and evolution have already expanded into so many different directions.

Chamorros are Pacific Islanders and while some Asians may call themselves the same, you will see from the link who actually belongs to the group and who doesn't. It is not a measure to be spiteful, but a measure to protect our heritage as we our vastly outnumbered by foreign nationals on our own islands. Therefore, maintaining our identity as we did through colonialism and imperialism is vital in keeping our language and culture alive.

If you have visited other websites in regard to Chamorro heritage or language, you'll see much pointing in the direction of the Philippines as to our origin. It couldn't be more wrong. No one knows for sure as to where the Chamorros came from, so inciting an exact location is not only pretentious; it is inaccurately portraying an already struggling culture. Additionally, languages stemming from Indonesia to Easter Island have a few words in common and even some stems, but some are more closely linked than others. If you examine the ancient Chamorro numbering system, you will find our numbers are closer to Samoan rather than any other Southeast Asian language.

Chamorros were the first to cross into the Pacific over 3500 years ago and some of the ancient traditions are being revived today in order to pass on the cultural riches and language to our descendants for generations to come. If you have any questions or comments in regard to the contents of this site, please feel free to post any such inquiries and I will be sure to respond in a timely fashion.


You have to be careful with pronunciation as vowels are not always the same. However, there are a few tricky letters that stay the same:

a 'ah' as in 'father' or 'a' as in 'cat'

note: å is not used in old Chamorro text. This is more commonly used by Guamanians and is a fairly new concept. It is unoriginal, therefore it will not be used in this site.

e 'eh' as in 'bend' or 'ee' as in 'feet'

i 'ee' as in 'feet'

o 'oh' as in vote or 'oo' as in 'food'

u 'oo' as in 'food'

y is pronounced as dz. Like the 'ds' in 'kids'

ch 'ch' as in 'cheese' or 'ts' as in 'tsunami'

j 'h' as in 'hello'; there are very few Chamorro words with 'j'

ñ 'ny' as in 'canyon'

The remainder of consonants in the chamorro alphabet:

b 'b' as in 'bravo'

d 'd' as in 'delta'

f 'f' as in 'foxtrot'

g 'g' as in 'golf'

h 'h' as in 'hotel'

k 'k' as in 'kilo'

l 'l' as in 'lima'

m 'm' as in 'mike'

n 'n' as in 'november'

p 'p' as in 'papa'

r 'r' as in 'romeo'

s 's' as in 'sierra'

t 't' as in 'tango'

Note: much of the content of this site is focused on a dialect used in the Northern Marianas and notes on Guamanian colloquialisms or terms will be noted where appropriate. 

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