Saturday, November 21, 2009

Leksion Chamorro: I attikulon "nu/as"

The article "nu" is arguably the most confusing article within Chamorro coming from an English speaking viewpoint. Sometimes nu is translated as "about," "with," "by," etc., but sometimes there is no compatible English word.

Technically, nu is a non-focus marking particle. Meaning, nu is a particle that precedes a nouns when it's not the "focus" of a sentence/clause, whereas i/si mark the "focus" of the sentence/clause. Nu often occurs as ni, a contraction of nu + i; nu also occurs as the particle as when the non-focus is a proper noun (i.e.: when the particle si would otherwise be used). I'll try to explain it in a little more detail.

In any Chamorro sentence there must be a focus, which we mark with the articles i/si. For example:
  1. Hu ina i chalan. = I lit the road.
  2. Ha sångåni i ga'chong-ña. = He told his friend.
  3. Ma nå'i i patgon. = They gave the child (something).
  4. Manmåsångåni i famagu'on. = The children were told.
  5. Mågåggao i nana. = The mother was asked.
  6. Måleffa si Maria. = Maria forgot.
Sometimes, there is some sort of modifier or explanation in the sentence, along with the main focus. Adjusting the above examples, we get:
  1. Hu ina i chalan ni kandet. = I lit the road with the light.
  2. Ha sångåni i ga'chong-ña ni bidå-ña. = He told his friend about his deed.
  3. Ma nå'i i patgon nu regålu. = They gave the child a gift.
  4. Manmåsångåni i famagu'on ni estoria. = The children were told a story.
  5. Mågåggao i nana nu kande. = The mother was asked for candy.
  6. Måleffa si Maria as Jose = Maria forgot about Joe.
In exmaple 1 the "light" isn't what's being lit, so it cannot be the focus of the verb ina. However, it explained how the road was lit, so we call that the non-focus of the verb.

In example 2 "his friend" is spoken to, and the "deed" is being talked about. So, the "deed" is the non-focus of the verb sångåni.

In example 5 the "mother" was asked, so she is the focus of the verb mågåggao. The non-focus of the verb is "candy," since it explains what she was being asked for.

Lastly, in example 6 "Maria" forgets, and we see that "Joe"explains who she forgot.