This is a question I was often asked when telling people I was moving to Guam. Here is the answer:
All people living on Guam are called “Guamanian.” Guam is a U.S. Territory and people speak English; however, the Chamorro (the indigenous peoples of the Mariana Islands) speak Chamorro. So, all people from Guam are Guamanian, but not all Guamanians are Chamorro.
One common phrase you will often hear is “Håfa adai” (sounds like “half a day”) which translates to “hello” or “good day.” You will often hear this when entering stores or restaurants. Chamorro is spoken in homes and though you will probably get by just fine on Guam without speaking a word of Chamorro, if you have the opportunity to converse in the language and put forth an effort I’m sure it will be appreciated and well received.
The Chamorro language is currently threatened. The 2000 U.S. Census showed that fewer than 20% of Chamorro living on Guam speak their native language fluently, and most of those are 55 or older. Though currently there is action for the language to be revitalized, it seems it may not be enough. I was watching the news one day and a local man stated that the children in school are being taught their numbers and colors in Chamorro, but more needs to be done for this language to be saved.
You may be thinking “So what? It is a dying language. The world is shrinking. Soon we will all be speaking the same language anyway. What difference does it make? And isn’t it a U.S. Territory?” Well yes, that may be true, but it IS important. The language, culture and history of any place, be it a state, a village or even a street, should be remembered. To know where you come from is to know who you are.
Below are the Chamorro and correct pronunciations some of the villages on Guam. I also included some every day use of Chamorro obtained from the Department of Chamorro Affairs. You may notice some Spanish influence in some of the words because Guam was colonized by Spain for over 300 years. If you are interested, you can get a better idea of how to pronounce these words here.
Guåhån -- Guam
Chalan-Pago-Ordot chah-lahn pah-goh or-dot
Dededo deh deh dough
Mongmong-Toto-Maite muhng-muhng toe-two-my-tee
Greetings and Salutations
Håfa Adai Hello/ Good day
Buenas Hi/ Hello
Buenas Dihas Good Morning
Buenas Tåtdes Good Afternoon
Buenas Noches Good Evening
Siñot Response or greeting to a male
Siñora Response or greeting to a female
Håfa tatamanu hao? How are you?
Kao todu maolek? Is everything fine? Are you all right?
Kao maolek hao? Are you fine?
Kao siña hu ayuda hao? May I help you?
Kao guaha un nisisita? Do you need anything?
Kao un nisisita ayudu? Do you need help?
Amånu nai gaige i ‘Hotel Nikko?’ Where is Nikko hotel?
Amånu nai gaige i K-Mart? Where is K-Mart?
Amånu nai gaige i kemmon? Where is the restroom?
Pot fabot, ayuda yu’! Please help me!
Despensa yu’. Excuse me.
Ki ora på’go? What time is it now?
Hu nisisita mediku. I need a doctor.
Håyi na’ån-mu? What is your name?
Taotao månu håo? Where are you from?
Amånu nai sumåsaga hao? Where do you live?
Sumåsaga yu’ giya Barrigada. I live in Barrigada
Kao Chaorro hao? Are you Chamorro?
Maolek yu’. I am fine
Ya hågu? And you?
Todu maolek . Everything is good
Todu båba. Everything is bad
Maolek/ maolek ha’/esta maolek Good/ okay
Si Yu’os Ma’åse’ Thank you
Buen probechu You’re welcome
Pues adios astaki/ Adios esta despues Goodbye until later
Asta i biråda See you around
Pot fabot Please
Nangga un råtu Wait a minute
Saluda, bien binidu Welcome (arrival)
Inorabuena, filisadåd Congratulations
Agupa’ña Day after tomorrow
Nigapña Day before yesterday
Nå’i yu’ Give me
Fa’nu’i yu’ Show me
Fa’nå’gue yu’ Teach me
Guaiya, guinaiya Love
Bunitu, bunita, asentådu Beautiful/Nice
Until next time, Asta i biråda !