A new reference grammar of Chamorro has just been published and is freely available to everyone through eScholarship, the open access platform of the University of California. The author is Sandra Chung, a linguist from the University of California, Santa Cruz, who has spent more than 40 years studying the Chamorro language in the CNMI and in the continental U.S.
Chamorro Grammar gives a comprehensive overview of the language’s structure, including many topics that have never been described before. Over 700 pages long, it is designed to be a resource for linguists, educators, and community members, and to facilitate revitalization and renewal efforts.
Chung began writing the grammar 11 years ago as part of a larger project to upgrade the documentation of the Chamorro language. Initially funded by the National Science Foundation (2008-2013), the project’s main focus is the ongoing community-based effort to revise the Chamorro-English Dictionary. Over a hundred Chamorro speakers on Rota, Saipan, and Tinian have worked on the revised dictionary, which is now being edited. According to Chung, the dictionary material supplied by community members was crucial for her grammar. “Without the efforts of the dictionary working groups,” she says, “I could never have completed the grammar.” The grammar draws its many illustrative examples from the dictionary database, from Chamorro books published in the CNMI and in Guam, and from her linguistic fieldwork.
One of the great advantages of online publication is that the grammar can be viewed and downloaded at no cost. A print version is planned for the near future. Farther down the road, there may be a student’s version. What matters to Chung right now is that some version is available to the public.
Chamorro Grammar can be viewed and downloaded at https://escholarship.org/uc/item/2sx7w4h5. (PR)