Wednesday, November 28, 2007


I realize in an earlier comment I used the term "nei" to which I received an inquiry from a state-sider as to what exactly that meant. So that got me thinking, maybe I should do a post for our off-island brethren who need to be educated on some of the finer points of local English. And while it's nowhere near comprehensive here at least is a highlight of some of the more common phrases one might hear in a computer classroom on Saipan. (for all the locals out there, please forgive me if I get something wrong but do feel free to correct or add to the list as you see fit)

  • Nei or Nai (nay-but not like the horse): Probably one of the most prevalent of local terms, while I have no way to prove it, it's my opinion that this word was probably derived from the Japanese "ne" since they sound so similar and are used in almost exactly the same way. "Nei" is usually put at the end of a sentence and basically means "right".
Jose: "It's hot today nei?"
Juan: "Yah nei!"

  • Par (pär) Brat (brät-as in bratwurst): No, they have nothing to do with golf or a poorly behaved child. They both kind of mean "friend". These two terms can be used interchangeably and while I'm not 100% sure I believe par is short for partner and brat is an abbreviation of brother. Therefore the words themselves are used in similar contexts, usually to show camaraderie or companionship.
Jose: "This game is badass brat!" (badass is a common term here meaning exceptionally cool)
Juan: "Yah nei par! It's da best."

  • Ai Adai (i uh-day): As best I can tell this is generally an expression of exasperation. Therefore it's no surprise that this term is used extensively in conversations pertaining to the government or the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation. One typically will shake their head from side to side and make a "tsk-tsk" sound while uttering this phrase. Although I've also heard it used to express surprise or slight shock as well.
Jose: "Mr. Redd, my computer just turned off."
Mr. Redd: "Ai Adai Jose, why do you keep pushing the power button?"

  • Fagaga (fa-ga-ga): I believe the direct translation of this term is "to treat like an animal" although the more appropriate translation is to play a joke on someone. As in "Look out for her she really likes to fagaga people".
Jose: "Hey par look, I'm gonna turn off my computer to fagaga Mr. Redd"
Juan: "Yah brat, do it, that's funny"
Jose: "Mr. Redd, my computer just turned itself off?!"
Mr. Redd: "Ai Adai Jose, why you always fagaga me?"

  • Matoka or Matoko (ma-tow-ko): The Chamorro version of "'re gonna get in trouble." As you may have been able to tell this word is gender specific so if a girl is doing something she shouldn't be then its "matoka" or, as is more often the case if its a boy doing something wrong then it becomes "matoko". The word is usually spoken in a much higher decibel than regular speech and is held out longer in order to better get the offending party in trouble.
Jose: "Look brat, I'm gonna turn off my computer to fagaga Mr. Redd."
Juanita: "MATOOKOO, I'm gonna tell."
  • Laña or Lania (la-nya): This one I was somewhat hesitant to cover due to the fact I've heard some people say that it used to be quite offensive, though it is used so frequently that I feel it would be a disservice to forgo explaining its use. Really this term should probably up near the top of this list as it is used almost as frequently as "nei". I've heard many different direct translations everything from a deep explanation of its sexual connotations to one who informed me "oh it's just like 'shyt' in English". As best I can ascertain it is essentially a more risqué way to say "ai adai". Therefore it could be used for just about anything, to show surprise, frustration, contempt, anger, happiness, sadness...yeah pretty much you name it and you can say "lania" before it.
Jose: "Lania brat, my computer just crashed!"
Juan: "Then tell Mr. Redd"
Jose: "Mr. Redd, my computer just crashed."
Mr. Redd "Yeah, right Jose...WHATEVER"

Education Related Quote of the Day:

"You don't appreciate a lot of stuff in school until you get older. Little things like being spanked every day by a middle-aged woman: Stuff you pay good money for in later life."
Emo Philips


Boni said...

Laña is a very bad and offensive word. The elders will have your head if they hear you say that. Seriously, this is not a good word to use, even in jest. Our youngsters are too flippant with curse words.

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

Hmmm...she sounds just like a teacher.

How about verb usage and choice?

Open the light.

Off the air con.

Pack me on your scooter.

Lewie Tenorio said...

Toka, Bryan. Hanakokolele, you wrote Lañya on your blog! See, nei? Now the Principal has to scold you.

Boni said...

You guys are too much!

Dominic said...

OH man you forgot the classic one.


"Go fan to the store fan and buy fan the electric fan, fan?... Please, fan?"

Explain that one please.

Marc said...

don't forget "dalai"

Mr. Puggle said...

hahaha, googled ai adai to make sure i was spelling it correctly. i miss guam!

Mr. Puggle said...

sorry, clicked too soon. anyways. google brought me to your blog. i miss "on the light" too. i really miss the accent too. have found only one chamoru on the south side of chicago. one of these days i will try and start a club. esta ki

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Anonymous said...

Hafa! I just saw your blog b/c I was looking for the correct spelling of Ai adai. I worked for the BOSC on base and was a Military spouse.
So my friends were local and forced me to learn most of those words. I didn't see if anyone further elaborated or if this out of date so, I'll give you mine.
Par is short for Pari. Pari is taken from a word similar to Compadre' but is only used for your male friend who is a godfather to one of your kids or vice versa.
Mali is the female version. (pro. "Mull-ee")
Ai Adai is similar to our "aye yi yiiii!"
Laña (still not sure how to spell it) but its almost the same as saying "Shit!". It can be offensive but EVERY Chamorro person I know says it: in public.
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("si juice Mahsseee") that means "Thank you!"

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