July 21, 2006

Saipan Vernacular

In California, I once told some friends that just for kicks my best friend, we'll call her Ace (lol!), and I would go strolling through Kagman - we'd get lost and try to find our way out again. They thought it was really weird that we went strolling all the time. I think they pictured us in long dresses with pretty pink parisols walking along some beachfront path. Boy, were they wrong.

Recently, a friend of mine mentioned the odd reaction she received when she told a friend in the states that she was going to "get down with him." They stopped at a store and she told her friend she was going to get down with him. He thought she wanted to dance.

Reminds me of when people ask you to follow them. "Follow me, fan, I'm ashamed" means, "please come with me, I'm kinda shy." Has anyone ever asked you to "follow me smoke?"

So then this same friend, let's call her Mary, told me about the time her high school English teacher was getting into colloquialisms and vernacular. He told them that when he first arrived on island and people would tell him "on the light," he would would confusedly look up at the light - what's on the light? He didn't see anything. When he finally understood what was being asked of him, he would respond with "TURN on the light." He also told the class that "open the light" or "on the faucet" was incorrect. Mary told me that she and her classmates agreed with the teacher, "yeah, Mister, we know that...open the light is wrong" (notice how they only refer to him as Mister...another example of Saipan high school vernacular). Then the teacher gave another example, "nothing power." And the class was confused, "what do you mean, Mister, there's nothing power...it means there's nothing power."

One time James answered a phone call at work. It went a little something like this...
James: Hello?
Dude: Can I speak with 'Jamal'?
James: Who is calling?
Dude: This is the Godfather.
James: Who is this?
Dude: The Godfather.
James: *thinking, I'll give him one more chance.* Who is this?
Dude: This is the Godfather.
James: *click*
It was so funny hearing this story. I explained to James that people will often just say, "this is the Auntie" or "this is the brother" or whatever. So it is most likely that that dude really was Jamal's Godfather. But whatever, with the work James does, I agree that he should have properly identified himself.


  1. omg this is hilarious. i know, know, know that on the light is wrong, but i still say it. darn you cnmi pss!

    you forgot about tree. 'i saw tree trees.' lol

  2. Funny funny funny.

    I've had that problem with the "get down" phrase. I have to think sometimes whether what I'm saying is actually correct or is it something I learned back home.

    And people don't get it when you say, "Oh yeah, no?"

    I'm going to think more about this.

  3. Oh yeah, no? I forgot about dose tree, ike, I mean two. lol.

    It's a lot of fun talking with James and telling him about the different phrases that are Saipan. He always gets a kick out of massive and millard. A few months ago I heard a lady on her cell phone tell a friend, "that's so stale." I hadn't hear that in years.


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