fino' chamoru / Ineyak

Ineyak Chamoru “Phrase by Phrase”

Systematization has been so important for me as a student: focused, directed, structured approaches to learning.  Without that, I might learn a few familiar or amusing phrases but nothing more: I’d float, learning nothing really of the language.

I’ve been studying the foundational grammatical structure of Fino’ Chamoru in a variety of ways.  Probably my favorite thus far, and the most systematic that I have found, is based on oral repetition in natural conversation: accessing that foundational grammatical structure through mastery of a few simple basic phrases which then serve as models or patterns for constructing many other sentences.

For example:

(1) The grammatical rule of using the man– prefix for the “passive” verb tense with yu’-type pronouns: “Mangånna yu!” (a phrase I have been happy to hear often from my partner upon having won at a game).

(2) The use of the -um- infix as a “verbalizer”: “Malago’ yu’ jumagundo Hearthstone.”  I heard this phrase from a young boy and it’s really stuck with me.  I hear it in my head now before I construct a similar sentence with any verb.  Well, that or “jumump attack.”  You also use this –um– infix with intransitive singular verbs.

(3) I once used the phrase “saina siha” to a fluent Chamorro speaker, who started laughing.  The man- prefix (or a form of it, such as fan-) is also used as a noun pluralizer in many cases.  Mañaina is what I now refer to.  And I still remember this almost every time I am pluralizing a noun, whether famagu’on or manganiti.

Fino’ Chamoru’s grammatical structure is far more complex than the few above examples cover.  But, as a novice in the language, I have found it helpful to conceptualize my progress as starting with bite-size foundational conversational phrases and then slowly acquiring the ability to build on them.

I’m excited that Hurao Academy is offering its after-school program again on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at the Chamorro Village.  I look forward to attending (with children) both for the children’s portion and then for the adults’.


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