Chamorro-English dictionary now has over 10,000 entries

THERE are now 10,530 entries in the revised Chamorro-English dictionary, according to Dr. Elizabeth D. Rechebei.

She said over 100 Chamorro speakers were involved in providing information and new words in the ongoing revision of the 1975 Topping, Ogo and Dungca dictionary.

Rechebei, Manny Borja and Tita Hocog are the editors of the revised dictionary.

She said each entry now includes several definitions and at least two or three example sentences.

She added that the entries came from thematic work groups with knowledge of traditional healing, local government and politics, food, cultural practices such as marriage customs, Chamorro family names and nicknames, names of places, borrowed Japanese, English and other foreign words, types of fish, fishing techniques, sailing, weather patterns, and other things.

The dictionary editors also consulted Chamorro speakers in Guam, including the aging centers in almost all of the villages there as well as some families and individuals, Rechebei said.

They also consulted people on Tinian, Rota and Saipan regarding words the editors were not sure about. “The editors continue to reach out to many Chamorro speakers for specific information such as the local names of certain plants, fish or abstract terms.”

The people involved in the project are all volunteers, she said, adding that the revision of the Chamorro-English dictionary started in 2009.

Rechebei said the July 2009 revised orthography was adopted by the CNMI Legislature in December 2010. It is now the official Chamorro Orthography for the Northern Mariana Islands.

“It has been adopted by the Public School System and is the orthography used for all government translations by the CNMI Chamorro/Carolinian Language Policy Commission and the ongoing revision of the 1975 Chamorro-English Dictionary.”

The CNMI Legislature provided funding through the Inetnun Amutyan Kuttura, a non-profit group, to cover travel, supplies/materials, and related costs including the initial publication of the dictionary when completed.

The project was initially funded by the National Science Foundation through a grant by Dr. Sandra Chung, professor of linguistics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Dr.  Elizabeth D. Rechebei.

The Northern Marianas Humanities Council sponsored the project for three years, and also funded the workshop to revise the orthography led by the language commission under the chairmanship of William Macaranas and the dictionary workgroups whose members included Carmen Taimanao, Bernadita Sablan, Rita Guerrero, Cindy Reyes, Dr. Sandra Chung, and other former Chamorro teachers.

“The people who were involved in the early work on this dictionary realized the need to revise the Chamorro orthography to be consistent with the way the language is actually spoken,” Rechebei said.