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.
(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’.