Monday, June 22, 2009

Pidgin Be Flying

Aloha,
Greetings, Hello, Anaseo, Shalom, Howdy, Konichiwa, Ciao, Ni Hau !Click on photos to enlarge

"Writing cannot express all words, words cannot encompass all ideas."
Confucius



"By words the mind is winged."
Aristophanes

Young breadfruit, or Ulu in Hawaiian
"He that travelleth into a country before he hath some entrance into the language, goeth to school, and not to travel."
Francis Bacon

"Belladonna, n.: In Italian a beautiful lady; in English a deadly poison. A striking example of the essential identity of the two tongues."
Ambrose Bierce

"There is no such thing as an ugly language. Today I hear every language as if it were the only one, and when I hear of one that is dying, it overwhelms me as though it were the death of the Earth."
Elias Canetti

"When I use a word [...] it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less."
Humpty Dumpty, in Through The Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll

"I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men, and German to my dog."
Emperor Charles V

"England and America are two countries divided by a common language."
George Bernard Shaw


Every area has it's own unique "tongue."
We can tell a lot about people by the way they speak,
or the way they "tawk."
When I was in Jamaica the patois was impenetrable, though based on the Queen's English.
Ebonics, the English spoken by some black Americans, refreshes and enlivens our language and our culture.
Cockneys, Brooklynites, Southern Belles, and Oxford dons may be distinguished by their modes of verbal communication, as may Pakistanis, and New England Yankees.
Well Hawaii is no different. We have our own indigenous way of "talking story" through the use of Pidgin, or "Hawaiian Creole English."
The other day I was in a Waikiki store behind a lady from the continental USA.
She asked the shop girl for a certain thing.
"No mo," replied the girl.
"No mo?" asked the puzzled woman.
"No," answered the local girl.
I could have told the woman that the girl was telling her there was "No more."


This is standard pidgin that we use because it is our primary tongue (and yes it is a problem in school and employment) or because it is the linguistic equivalent of comfortable slippers, or as a mark of belonging to this special community.
I look like a tourist to many local folks, even if they are fresh off the jet from Pago Pago, the Philipines, or Micronesia themselves. They way I speak, the words and the rhythm of it say: "Easy, Brah (Bruddah) or Sistah, I stay local too, eh?" When we can't think of the word for what we need we use: "Da Kine" (the kind) "Hand me da kine." And they hand it to you. You go to the neighbor to borrow a tool: "You get da kine hammer?"
We say stuffs like: "You like come?" "Can or no can?" "Stay COME Den!" (then).
In my autobiographical novel "Aloha Where You Like Go?" Pidgin is practically a character. The book's glossary contains Pidgin, Hawaiian, & Japanese words because that's the reality here. We don't have ghost stories, we have Obake (Japanese ghost) stories. If you enjoy that sort of literature, you should go to Amazon and check out books by Glenn Grant who collected TONS of this material and presented it very compellingly. You might want to buy one of his books AND mine for the complete Hawaiian STAY-cation; you can read us by the pool this Summer ;-)
Hawaii people are justifiably proud of this brilliant cultural adaptation through which those of many cultures and languages were able to communicate, and to make their contributions to the language and life of these islands.
It is important to remember that Pidgin is not Ka Olelo Hawaii, the Hawaiian language of the indigenous people, though Pidgin does seem to be based somewhat on Hawaiian grammar. A song lyric: "Nui ke aloha," literally means: "Big, the love." Contemporary Pidgin speakers will say things like: "Beeg (big) da dog!" Phrases like "Where you stay?" or "Stay come!" likely have something to do with the Hawaiian word/concept "Noho" meaning: seat, sit, reside, stay.
Through speaking Pidgin we linguistically honor our Kupuna (Hawaiian word meaning grandparents or ancestors) and their ethnicity's using borrowed Chinese, Japanese, Hawaiian and English words (among others) in this daily celebration of our unique, plantation-born, "Local" culture.
"Cool head main thing." "Stay pau" (I'm finished") "Ono for some grinds?" (You hungry?) "I like go beach!" (self explanatory ;-) "Meet me pau hana." (after work) "Beeg da keiki!)" (Those/that kid/kids are getting HUGE!).
Just da way we roll here in the 808 (telephone area code for Hawaii)
Stay Come! No Worries, you going like 'um!
Laters, Cuz! Cloudia

23 comments:

Abe Lincoln said...

Shaw's quote it the most serious of the lot. And those on the other side of the pond are pub dwellers while we don't even have a proper pub.

the walking man said...

The trials of a poet is to find the words to express the words intent.

I could easily adapt to your pidgen, add it to my repertoire of languages I don't speak but do think.

Bubblewench said...

I love that! Can't wait to read your book. Soon.

Teresa said...

A truly great post, Cloudia. I didn't know about Hawaiian pidgins that fly, no less. Thanks for the language lesson. Now when I've saved up enough pennies to stay come in Hawai'i, I'll understand what the people are saying to me :)

Daryl said...

I love how you always have the most perfect spot-on quotes .. and I always learn something new and interesting .. xoxo Aloha!

Hobo ........ ........ ........ said...

Someone told me once if you click every picture what you will store for your eyes.

Charles Gramlich said...

Love the Bierce quote. Had to laugh.

tricia said...

Thanks for the language lesson... and quotes.. and of course the pictures. I think this is one of my favorite posts. (Of course I think that most times I read your posts) :)

Raph G. Neckmann said...

I like Lewis Carroll's quote, Cloudia!! Wonderful! I wish I had known it when I was at giraffe school for comprehension lessons!!!

Deborah Godin said...

LOVED this post (total slang junkie and wordie that I am)!!! I can see that these books (yours and Grants) are the next must-reads for me. On my to Amazon, C-ya!!

debra said...

I could hear the words, Cloudia.

Travis Erwin said...

Enjoyed this post, especially since I just started reading you novel.

Akelamalu said...

Some accents are so broad in different parts of England that it's like being in a foreign country! :)

Anonymous said...

great interesting

Barbara Martin said...

The quotes are wonderful as usual. Language is a necessity for all of us.

Reader Wil said...

Interesting post, Cloudia! I've just returned from France where there are so many accents which I cannot understand.

Deetree said...

I miss it all around me....I still end statements with "yeah?" and every now and then little bits come out w/my sister like "try wait!" "eh,stoopid!" "so ono!" etc. Also, we still Jan Ken Po to see who gets to go first or whatever sometimes! I have one girlfriend here (hapa) whose dad was born/raised in Waianae and when we get together, it comes out a lot! eh, no can help! ;>

magiceye said...

that was a lovely introduction to the lingua franca of hawaii! its no different here in india..the language changes every 100kms!

Cloudia said...

Wow, thanks for all those great comments!
Yes, DeeTree, folks here still end sentences with "Yah?"
"You gottem, yah?"

Aloha my friends!!!!

Anonymous said...

gotta get Ur book

Gran said...

Cloudia, I enjoyed the pidgin in your book. And I appreciate the glossary in the back of your book! Laters, Sistah!

Dina said...

Thanks for this enlightening telling.

Cloudia said...

Mahalo Gran and Dina!!
Aloha Sistahs ;-)