The Chamorro language of the Mariana Islands provides the paradigm case of the clashes of interest of the competing colonial powers. The article discusses the writing systems which were introduced by the various colonizing nations. The representatives of these nations made it a point of honor to introduce an orthography of their own in order to distance themselves from their predecessors or their competitors on Guam and the Northern Marianas, respectively. The focus of this paper is on the concept of syntactic word. It is shown that the proponents of the at times largely incompatible spelling systems (inadvertently) applied the rules they were familiar with from their native language (Spanish, German, English or Japanese). The paper emphasizes that some of the problems modern speakers of Chamorro are facing when it comes to putting their language to writing is part and parcel of the colonial heritage.