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“Excuse me, please. How do you say…?”

Have you ever said something, thinking you pronounced the word or phrase correctly, only to hear someone use the same word or phrase entirely differently? You’re not alone. Many words and phrases on Guam are not what you would expect.

Here are a few that stumped me when I was “Fresh Off the Plane” (FOP).  I’ll try to use common sounds and words to break them down. Again, these are from my perspective. However, if you’d like to comment and/or correct me, please comment below. If you have a few you’d like added, throw them my way!

Villages

For the purpose of simplicity, the villages are categorized as Northern, Southern, or Central. Even though these names all begin with ‘Y’, the sound each represents is unique.

Yona = joan-ya                             Southern village

Yigo = gee-go                                 Northern village

Ypao = ee-pow                               Public beach in Tumon

Mangilao = mang-ee-lau            Central village

Toto = toe-two                                Central village

Maite = my-tee                               Central village

Agat = ayg-it                                  Southern village

Piti = pee-tee                                  Central village

Phrases

Below are a few phrases my husband broke out when we first moved to Guam.

“Off the light, fan.” =  Simply means “Turn off the light.”

“Who’s own?” =   A more local rendition of “Who does this belong to?”

“Off the air-con, fan.” = “Please turn on the air conditioning, Dear.”

You Say Potato, I Say Potato

If you’re like many of us who can’t wait to beat it down to the nearest beach, you’ll most likely wear a pair of flip flops in the sand. On Guam they are called “Zories” or slippers. I guess thongs have taken on a new meaning and are rarely referred to as footgear!

And finally, newcomers to the island are often heard saying “Chamorran” to describe food and language. Wrong! “Chamorro” is the correct designation. Though “Guamese” sounds like a real word, it isn’t. Instead, people from Guam are “Guamanian.”

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“Excuse me, please. How do you say…?”
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