Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Leksion Chamoru: Prefix må-

The "passive marker" prefix må- is one of the most frequently used prefixes in the Chamorro language. If you like the grammar explanation, it changes a verb from the active voice to the passive. If you don't particularly care for grammatical things, then it's pretty much like adding "-ed" to an English verb.
Hopefully these examples will clear up what I mean:
  • Fa'tinas = Cook, make
    Må- + fa'tinas => Måfa'tinas = Cooked, made
  • Åligao = Search (for), look (for)
    Må- + åligao => Må'åligao = Searched (for), looked (for)
  • Sotta = Release
    Må- + sotta => Måsotta = Released
  • Li'e' = See
    Må- + li'e' => Måli'e' = Seen
  • Konne' = Take (living object)
    Må- + konne' => Måkonne' = Taken
  • Tuna = Bless, praise
    Må- + tuna => Måtuna = Blessed, praised
When you add må-, you need to follow it with a noun or yo'-type pronouns. Here are some examples with active voice, then passive following:
  • Ha fa'tinas i kaddo. = He cooks (did cook) the soup.
    Måfa'tinas i kaddo. = The soup was cooked.
  • Hu åligao si Juan. = I search (did search) for John.
    Må'åligao si Juan. = John was searched for.
  • Ma sotta i paluma. = They release (did release) the bird.
    Måsotta i paluma. = The bird was released.
  • Un li'e' i palao'an. = You see (did see) the woman.
    Måli'e' i palao'an. = The woman was seen.
The prefix må- is easy to confuse with the hu-type pronoun ma, but try not to. Just like the example above "Ma sotta" vs. " Måsotta," the meaning can have important yet subtle differences.

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