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Subscriber: null; date: 10 December 2018

Hawaiian English

Source:
Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language
Author(s):
Tom McArthurTom McArthur

Hawaiian English. 

The English language as used in Hawaii, an archipelago in the Pacific, since 1959 the 50th state of the United States. Most ethnic Hawaiians now speak English or hawaii creole english rather than hawaiian, though there are attempts to revive the language. English has been the language of education for well over a century and is the administrative and general language of the state. The distinctive features of Hawaiian american english include words of indigenous origin, their combination with imported words, informal and slang expressions often incorporating elements of Hawaii English Pidgin/Creole, and unique expressions used in giving directions. Widely used words from Hawaiian include: aloha love, sympathy (a common form of greeting and farewell), haole originally any foreigner, now a Caucasian, heiau a traditional temple, hula a kind of dance (formerly usually sacred, now mainly performed for tourists), kane a man, kapu taboo, keep out, lanai a porch or patio, lei a garland of flowers, seeds, or shells (especially as a token of welcome), mahalo thank you, mahimahi a dolphin, mahope by and by, pau finished, poi a thick edible taro paste, pupus hors d'œuvres, wahine a girl, woman, wife, wikiwiki hurry up. Hybrid usages include: the Ala Moana Center, an aloha party, Kalakaua Avenue, a lei-seller, the Kilauea Crater, the Kodak Hula Show, kukui nuts, the Waianae Coast, Waikiki Bar-B-Que House, the Waimea Arboretum.

Hawaiian English mixes elements of AmE slang and informal usage with elements of Hawaiian, Hawaii English Pidgin/Creole, and other languages, as in: ala-alas balls (testicles), brah brother, buddahead (pejorative) someone from Japan or of Japanese background, to cockaroach to steal or sneak away with something, da kine that kind (Wheah da kine? Where's the whatsit?), FOB Fresh off the Boat, haolefied becoming like a haole, JOJ Just off the Jet, kapakahi mixed up (all from Douglas Simonson, Pidgin to da Max, Honolulu, 1981). Traditional terms of direction relate to geography, not points of the compass, as with mauka towards the mountains, makai towards the sea. On Oahu, these are combined with the names of two locations on the southern shore, Ewa beach and Waikiki/Diamond Head, as in: ‘Go ewa one block, turn makai at the traffic light, go two blocks Diamond Head, and you'll find the place on the mauka side of the street’ (‘Which Way Oahu?’, National Geographic, Nov. 1979); ‘The ewa bound lanes of the H-1 Freeway airport viaduct were closed for hours’ (Honolulu Advertiser, 27 Mar. 1990). Hawaiian journalists use localisms fairly freely; often with glosses: ‘For 1,500 years, a member of the Mookini family has been the kahuna—priest—at an enormous heiau—temple—at Upolu Point in Kohala at the northern tip of the Big Island.’ (Honolulu Advertiser, 4 May 1982). See maori english.