Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Munga umamot i semnak-hu away

On the Chamoru language front, things are progressing, albeit pretty slowly. For the most part I've been disciplined about studying for about one hour a day, including a half hour of vocab review and a half hour of reading and/or writing. I've got a working vocabulary of about 800 words now.

You'll notice there's no speaking or listening practice in there; unfortunately, I've yet to gain a steady conversational partner. Like many other young Chamorus trying to learn their native tongue, it can be very hard to find a supportive conversational partner--partly because the old people may not have the physical stamina or patience to listen to young Chamorus stutter through 30 minutes of Chamoru babytalk (which is an inevitable and necessary stage of any language learning), and partly because I've got to get over my own personal embarassment at being in that babytalk phase myself.

So that embarassment thing has got to go, and it's one of my personal attitude change projects for this year.

In the meantime, I've started translating things for myself to practice and learn some new grammar. I listen to the Chamoru radio on a weekly basis and realized that one of the songs my mom used to sing a lot in English seemed pretty simple, and that I already knew a fair amount of the vocabulary. So here it is, my translation of:

Munga Umamot I Semnak-hu

Hågu i semnak-hu, i semnak-hu ha’,
Un na’magof yu’ anai humomhom langet
Ti un tungo’ hu guaiya hao
Munga umamot i semnak-hu.

Desde i painge gumuinifi yu’
Hågu gaige gi fi’on-hu
Puminiti yu’ anai makmata yu’,
Tåya hågu pues tumånges yu’.

Hågu i semnak-hu, i semnak-hu ha’,
Un na’magof yu’ anai humomhom langet
Ti un tungo’ hu guaiya hao
Munga umamot i semnak-hu.

Ilek-mu neni, tåya otro sa’
Ni håyi tumupa kurason-måmi
Lao må’pos ni guaiya i etro
Un na’yåmak i guinifi-hu.

Hågu i semnak-hu, i semnak-hu ha’,
Un na’magof yu’ anai humomhom langet
Ti un tungo’ hu guaiya hao
Munga umamot i semnak-hu.

"Munga" is a negative imperative and the root word of "umamot" is "amot," which means "take away." "Somnak" means "sunshine." Therefore this is a lame attempt at "You are My Sunshine."

A few translating things: First, there's a line in there about skies being gray. Well, the word for gray is "kulot apu," which sounds less than poetic, and so I went for cloudy, which is "homhom." That's a pretty awesome word, both in its repetition and round vowel! But alas, it also gives me 12 syllables in a line where there should only by nine. But you know what? It's a cool word so I'm going to homhom wherever the hell I want.

Second, the fourth stanza (which my mom left out, for reasons that will be obvious if you think about singing this song to a kid) goes like this:

"You told me once dear, there'd be no other
That no one else could come between
But now you've left me to love another
You have broken all my dreams."

The last line in that stanza is a pretty convenient phrase and I'm sure it's not included in the Donald Topping's Chamorro Reference Grammar, so for those of you wannabe Chamoru broken hearts, you can now say "Un na'yåmak i guinifi-hu," but if you really want to drive home the point that literally ALL of your dreams are now in the toilet, say "Un na'yåmak todu i guinifi-hu." I left out the "todu" part in the song because it was two extra syllables.

Third, this song doesn't make much sense on Guåhan, because let's face it, there's never a day without sunshine. Even in rainy season. The sun is relentless and every local will complain about how hot it is, even though this is a tropical island and that (literally) goes with the territory (that's a political status joke--ha ha groan). So yes, there's always sun--my yori tan testifies to that!


theislander said...

Ai adai magahet. Gof makkat para kuentusi gi fino Chamorro sa i manamko ti gof malago fanague yan i manhoben ti gof malago ma tungo. Lao maolek hao sa malago hao un tungo. Guahu lokkue hoben yu' yan hu tungo didide i fino-ta lao ti gof maolek yu'.
But I try and I'm glad you are too. It's always nice to see a young Chamorro that's proud of their culture.

Moñeka said...

guahu lokkue. hu chachagi fino chamoru kadadiha.