Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Leksion Chamoru: Betbon "um" siha ("um" verbs)

Chamorro separates verbs into two categories: "um" and "man." For now we'll focus on the "um" verbs.

"Um" verbs are those that do not necessarily have an object associated with them. Some examples of "um" verbs would be:
  • Hånao = to go
  • Såga = to stay
  • Kånta = to sing
  • Li'of = to dive
  • Ñangu = to swim
  • O'mak = to shower
  • Chocho = to eat
While some "um" verbs like chocho might sometimes have an object associated with them, they do not need an object to make sense. One can "eat food," but one can also simply "eat."

When the sentence has no direct object and a singular subject, you simply add the infix -um- before the first vowel of the verb, and follow the verb with a yo' type pronoun. If the subject is plural, you add the prefix man- before the root verb, and follow it with a yo' type pronoun.

Note: Sorry to throw an extra concept in here, but simply adding the -um- or man- to the verb usually connotes a completed or past action, to produce a progressive action the penultimate (2nd to last) syllable is duplicated.

Here are some examples:
  • Humånao yo' para i tenda. = I went to the store.
  • Sumåsåga gue' giya Ye'ña. = She's staying/lives in Yona.
  • Mangånta siha. = They sang.
  • Lumili'of hao gi ladera. = You (singular) were diving from the cliff.
  • Manñangu hamyo gi painge. = You (plural) swam last night.
  • Umo'mak yo' esta. = I showered already.
  • Mañochocho hit. = We are eating.

Here's the complicated part... When the sentence has a direct object we consider two cases: definite object and indefinite object. When the object is definite you don't have to add anything to the verb. These sentences use a hu type pronoun, followed by the verb then the article and object. Luckily these types of sentences are rare, and some of them sound contrived even. E.g.:
  • Hu kånta i kanta. = I sang the song.
The other case is when the object is indefinite (or generalized). These sentences are formed exactly like the sentences without an object--using -um- and man- with the yo' type pronouns--followed by the object (usually without the indefinite article). These types of sentences are also infrequent, but here's an example:
  • Chumocho yo' pån. = I ate some bread.
Hopefully that sheds a little light on this type of verb :-)

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