Chamorro, or Chamoru, is the native language of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. Although the English language and Japanese language are commonplace on both Guam and the Northern Marianas Islands, people still use the Chamorro language. Chamorro is also used on the continental United States by immigrants and some of their descendants.
The numbers of Chamorro speakers have declined in recent years, and the younger generations are less likely to know the language. The influence of English, Spanish, and Japanese have caused the language to become endangered. Various representatives from Guam have unsuccessfully lobbied the United States to take action to promote the language.
A large number of Chamorro words have Spanish etymological roots (e.g. tenda "shop/store" from Spanish tienda), which may lead some to mistakenly conclude that the language is a Spanish Creole: However, Chamorro very much uses its loan words in a Micronesian way (eg: bumobola "playing ball" from bola "ball, play ball" with infix -um- and reduplication of root). However, Chamorro can also be considered a mixed language (Hispano-Austronesian) or a language that resulted of a contact and creolization process in the Mariana Islands. Modern Chamorro grammar has many elements of Spanish origin: articles, numbers, prepositions...
There are approximately 50,000 to 75,000 speakers of Chamorro throughout the Marianas archipelago. It is still common among Chamorro households in the Northern Marianas, but fluency has greatly decreased among Guamanian Chamorros during the years of American rule in favor of (a largely pidginized) American English. Ancient Chamorro is still spoken in the northern islands like Pagan, Saipan, Luta, and Tinian.
Chamorro has six distinct vowels. They are: å, a, i, e, u, and o. Note that å isn't usually distinguished in written Chamorro. Therefore you can't tell the difference between båba 'bad' and baba' 'open'.
All vowels are cardinal, like in Spanish, not like in English. The vowels I and E are similar because I sounds like 'ee' in meet when stressed, or 'i' in pit when unstressed. E sounds like 'e' in met when stressed, 'ee' in meet when unstressed or even 'i' in pit when unstressed. U and O are similar because U sounds like 'oo' in tool when stressed, or 'u' in put when unstressed. O can sound like 'o' in low when stressed, or 'u' in put when unstressed.
Chamorro has B- as in boy Ch- as in caBold textts D- as in de F- as in Feh G- as in Geh H- as in Heh (short e sound) K- as in Keh L- as in Leh M- as in Meh N- as in Neh N- like the 'n' in senora Ng O- as in "oh" P- as in "peh" R- as in reh S- as in seh T- as in teh U- as in oo in soon Y- as in tzeh
Note that the letter Y is pronounced more like 'dz' as it is in some dialects of Castilian Spanish, and that Ch is usually pronounced like 'ts' rather than 'tsh'. Note also that A and Å are not always distinguished in written Chamorro, often being written simply as 'A'; nor are N and Ñ always distinguished. Thus the Guamanian place name spelled Yona is pronounced 'dzo-nya', not 'yo-na' as might be expected. The letter combination of 'ao' is also pronounced as if it were an 'au'- sounds like 'ow' in 'cow'. (eg.: taotao/tautau - Chamorro word for 'person') There is also occasional interchangeability between two pairs of vowels - O & U and E & I. This is most noticeable at the end of certain words and/or when followed by a glottal stop. In addition, there is a common issue regarding Chamorro orthography with some words having more than one way of being spelled (eg.: Mt. Tapochau / Mt. Tapuchau / Mt. Tapochao / Mt. Tapuchao). Needless to say, the Chamorro language needs to undergo certain reforms.
Current common Chamoru uses only number words of Spanish origin: unu, dos, tres, kuatro, sinko, sais, siette, ocho, nuebi, dies, onse, dose, trese, katotse, kinse, disesisáis...; beinte (benti), trenta, kuarenta, sinkuenta...: sien, dos sientos, tres sientos... kinientos...; mit, dos mit, tres mit...
The Old Chamoru version used different number words based on categories: "Basic numbers" (for date, time, etc), "living things", "inanimate things", and "long objects".
Inero- January Ferbrero- February Matsu- March Abrit- April Mayu- May Junio- June Julio- July Agosto- August Septembre- September Oktubre- October Nubembre- Novemeber Dicembre- December
Writing time and date
agaga' - red
Bus and train
Car - Kåreta
kattan - North
Salape - Money
SNACKS & DESSERTS
Paseo - Stroll, cruise
authority-autoridåt, autoridát ma'gas-boss police officer-polisman police officers (3+)-manpolisia Professor-Profesot Mister-Señot (sometimes shortened to ñot for relatives) Miss-Señora (sometimes shortened to ñora for relatives) Teacher-Maestru