Language and Societies

ANT/LIN 5320 at Wayne State University

CHamoru Language and Identity in the United States Mainland

CHamoru Language and Identity in the United States Mainland

Bryan Lamorena

Language helps to form identity, both of the self and within a community. Cultural groups are unified with a common language being a strong signifier of common culture.  However, since the late 1600s, Guam has come under the rule of different colonial entities causing long-lasting negative cultural and linguistic effects.  With the CHamoru language marked as culturally vulnerable by UNESCO, speakers on the island of Guam have made concerted efforts, both inside and outside the classroom, to teach its younger generations the language of their ancestors and connect them to their indigenous heritage.  What does this mean, however, for the CHamorus who have left the island for the US mainland? According to US census data, more CHamorus live off island than on it.  How does language affect their identities as members of the CHamoru diaspora?  Through survey of members of CHamoru communities around the US and analysis of blogs, interviews, and social media, I explore the link between language and identity of ethnic CHamorus living in the US.  The majority of those that have answered the survey were not fluent in the language, while some were learning using online tools and communities as resources, but all agree that language is an important part of identification with the CHamoru culture.  This is a small sample size, and more research into CHamoru communities in the US can illuminate more on how the language is used and spread within them.  However, this preliminary research does shine light on a small segment of the US population.

April 20, 2022 - Posted by | abstract

1 Comment »

  1. This is an interesting topic and it deals with an issue that many indigenous communities are facing today. How are the younger generations reacting to being taught their cultural language? Many people tend to not realize the importance of things like this until they are older.

    Comment by Casey Carter | April 28, 2022 | Reply


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