Monday, November 1, 2010

Leksion Chamoru: Prefix la-

The prefix la- is a comparative degree marker meaning slightly or a little bit more. It can be used with most nouns and adjectives/adverbs in Chamorro, however here are several which are more commonly known/used:
  • Maolek = Good, well.
    La- + maolek => Lamaolek = Better (slightly).
  • Meggai = Many, several.
    La- + meggai => Lameggai = Very many.
  • Bunitu = Beautiful.
    La- + bunitu => Labunitu = More (slightly) beautiful, prettier.
  • Chaddek = Fast.
    La- + chaddek => Lachaddek = Faster.
  • Guse' = Quick, lively.
    La- + guse' => Laguse' = Quicker, livelier.
You can also use the word mås to mean "more," but some words, like chaddek, usually use the prefix la- rather than mås, i.e., it is more common to hear lachaddek rather than mås chaddek.

The prefix also takes the primary stress of new word, so for the above examples:
  • Lamaolek => LA-mao-lick
  • Lameggai => LA-meg-guy
  • Labunitu => LA-boo-knee-too
  • Lachaddek => LA-chad-deck
  • Laguse' => LA-goo-see'
Note: Some use la- to almost mean "to make more..." rather than just "more." This is not "wrong" per se, but it is safer to use na'la- or na'mås.


  1. Hi. I love your blog. It is very educational even to daily speakers like me. One thing I am curious though. Lachaddek and mas chaddek. In Rota, we use lachaddek to mean faster just like you say. However, we use mas chaddek to mean fastest i.e., "guahu mas chaddek malagu." I know your primary stress is the word "la" so I know I'm missing something from this lesson. Can you help me out. Thanks so much.

  2. Hafa Adai Vernon,
    Thanks for your comment! I should have clarified what I meant, because you're using it correctly. I meant to say that it's less common to hear someone saying "mas chaddek fan" when they're trying to tell you to do something faster (although it's techincally correct to say that), you usually hear them say "lachaddek fan."

  3. Hi there. Thanks so much for taking the time to reply. Now, I understand. I do not know why I forgot that "mas chaddek fan" can be used. Yes we in Rota use that phrase too but we do not use it as much as "lachaddek fan."