Monday, June 22, 2009

Pidgin Be Flying

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

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

"By words the mind is winged."

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