Language - Chamorro language

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Chamorro language

Chamorro (Finu' Chamoru) is an Austronesian language spoken by about 58,000 people (about 25,800 people on Guam and about 32,200 in the Northern Mariana Islands and the rest of the United States). It is the native and spoken language of the Chamorro people who are the indigenous people of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, both US territories.

The Chamorro language is threatened, with a precipitous drop in language fluency over the past century. It is estimated that 75% of the population of Guam was literate in the Chamorro language around the time the United States captured the island during the Spanish–American War (there are no similar language fluency estimates for other areas of the Mariana Islands during this time). A century later, the 2000 U.S. Census showed that fewer than 20% of Chamorros living in Guam speak their heritage language fluently, and the vast majority of those were over the age of 55.

A number of forces have contributed to the steep, post-World War II decline of Chamorro language fluency. A colonial legacy, beginning with the Spanish colonization of Guam in 1668, and eventually, the American acquisition of the islands (whose power continues to this day), imposed power structures privileging the language of the region's colonizers. It is of worthy note that according to estimates, a large majority, as stated above (75%), maintained active knowledge of the Chamorro language even during the Spanish colonial era, but this was all to change with the advent of American imperialism and enforcement of the English language.

In Guam, the language suffered additional suppression when the U.S. government banned the Chamorro language in schools in 1922. They collected and burned all Chamorro dictionaries. Similar policies were undertaken by the Japanese government when they controlled the region during World War II. After World War II, when Guam was ceded back to the United States, the American administrators of the island continued to impose “no Chamorro” language restrictions in local schools, teaching only English and disciplining students for speaking their indigenous tongue.

Even though these oppressive language policies were progressively lifted, the damage had been done. Subsequent generations were often raised in households where only the oldest family members were fluent. Lack of exposure made it increasingly difficult to pick up Chamorro as a second language. Within a few generations, English replaced Chamorro as the language of daily life.

There is a difference in the rate of Chamorro language fluency between Guam and the rest of the Marianas. On Guam (called Guåhan by Chamorro speakers, from the word guaha, meaning "have"; its English gloss "We have" references the island's providing everything needed to live ) the number of native Chamorro speakers has dwindled in the last decade or so. In the Northern Mariana Islands (NMI), young Chamorros speak the language fluently. Chamorro is common among Chamorro households in the Northern Marianas, but fluency has greatly decreased among Guamanian Chamorros during the years of American rule in favor of American English, which is commonplace throughout the inhabited Marianas.

Today, NMI Chamorros and Guamanian Chamorros disagree strongly on each other's linguistic fluency. An NMI Chamorro would say that Guamanian Chamorros speak the language incorrectly or speak "broken Chamorro", whereas a Guamanian Chamorro might consider the form used by NMI Chamorros as archaic.



Guam (Chamorro: Guåhån ) is an unincorporated and organized territory of the United States in Micronesia in the western Pacific Ocean. It is the easternmost point and territory of the United States, along with the Northern Mariana Islands. The capital city of Guam is Hagåtña and the most populous city is Dededo. The inhabitants of Guam are called Guamanians, and they are American citizens by birth. Indigenous Guamanians are the Chamorros, who are related to other Austronesian natives of Eastern Indonesia and Philippines and Taiwan. Guam has been a member of the Pacific Community since 1983.

In 2016, 162,742 people resided on Guam. Guam has an area of 210 mi2 and a population density of 775 /mi2. In Oceania, it is the largest and southernmost of the Mariana Islands and the largest island in Micronesia. Among its municipalities, Mongmong-Toto-Maite has the highest population density at 3,691 /mi2, whereas Inarajan and Umatac have the lowest density at 119 /mi2. The highest point is Mount Lamlam at 1332 ft above sea level. Since the 1960s, the economy has been supported by two industries: tourism and the United States Armed Forces.

Northern Mariana Islands

The Northern Mariana Islands, officially the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI; Sankattan Siha Na Islas Mariånas; Refaluwasch or Carolinian: Commonwealth Téél Falúw kka Efáng llól Marianas), is an insular area and commonwealth of the United States consisting of 14 islands in the northwestern Pacific Ocean. The CNMI includes the 14 northernmost islands in the Mariana Archipelago except the southernmost island of the chain, Guam, which is a separate U.S. territory. The CNMI and Guam are the westernmost point (in terms of jurisdiction) and territory of the United States.

The United States Department of the Interior cites a landmass of 183.5 sqmi. According to the 2010 United States Census, 53,883 people were living in the CNMI at that time. The vast majority of the population resides on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. The other islands of the Northern Marianas are sparsely inhabited; the most notable among these is Pågan, which for various reasons over the centuries has experienced major population flux, but formerly had residents numbering in the thousands.


Chamorro language (English)  Lingua chamorro (Italiano)  Chamorro (Nederlands)  Chamorro (Français)  Chamorro (Deutsch)  Língua chamorro (Português)  Чаморро (Русский)  Idioma chamorro (Español)  Język czamorro (Polski)  查莫罗语 (中文)  Chamorro (Svenska)  チャモロ語 (日本語)  Чаморро (Українська)  차모로어 (한국어)  Tšamorron kieli (Suomi)  Bahasa Chamorro (Bahasa Indonesia)  Čamorų kalba (Lietuvių)  Chamorro (Česky)  Çamorro dili (Türkçe)  Чаморо (Српски / Srpski)  Tšamorro keel (Eesti)  Chamorrski jezik (Hrvatski)  Čamorru valoda (Latviešu)  Tiếng Chamorro (Tiếng Việt)