Nhsc-v1-175

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nhsc-v1-175

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the most isolated parts of the Kaua'i kingdom (tor example, Ni'ihau), the Maui kingdom (for example, the Kaupo area), and the Hawai'i kingdom (for example, the Puna district). The differences are primarily in the pronunciation of the consonants symbolized with k, l and w, intonation, speed of speech, and small differences in vocabulary. There are no significant grammatical differences. The standard dialect taught in schools is that of O'ahu, the site of the capital. Table 60 gives examples of differences among the different areas. 5/

The Cultural Importance of Hawaiian

In the introduction, reference was made to the inseparable identity between all peonies and their languages, and the extreme importance of language as the bearer of the culture, history, and traditions of a people. This in itself is more than sufficient reason for the Hawaiian language to be valued above all else in the cultural context. In comparing Hawaiian culture with other cultures, however, is there any reason that language might be judged relatively more important or less important in a Hawaiian cultural context? Given the current weak status of the Hawaiian language it is unfortunate that the Hawaiian culture is in the top percentage of the world's cultures stressing the importance of language.

It is appropriate here that a few examples of the Hawaiian language in action be given to illustrate the three basic features that make language such an important factor of Hawaiian culture: (1) the necessity of language to human activity in order to identify it as human or, in a narrower perspective, Hawaiian; (2) the importance of subtlety, personality, and detail, that is, nicety in expression; and (3) the power of the word.

Human Activity

An example of the importance of language in human activity is best illustrated in the area of music and dance. Many cultures of the world (for example, Plains American Indian, European folk cultures, and classical European culture) emphasize dance and music with only instrumental accompaniment or minimal use of words (such as war and social dances of the Sioux, the polka and jig of Europe, and classical ballet). Such art forms appear simple in a Hawaiian context. Hawaiian culture placed great emphasis on language as the means of human artistic development. An example of this exists in the ni'au kani and 'ukeke (instruments using the mouth as a sound box). Words are formed in the mouth and echoed out with the vibrations of the instrument. Even the nose flute is designed to free the mouth for the formation of words, but since it is almost impossible to form words and play the nose flute at the same time, a custom of using note combinations to stand for words between initiates is associated with the instrument. These extreme examples illustrate the importance given by people to language (the ultimate human characteristic) in the Hawaiian culture.

Subtlety, Personality and Detail

A further complicating factor in Hawaiian culture is that subtlety and personalization are highly favored. This leads to the use of symbolism and veiled references in ordinary speech as a device for emphasizing a point without blatant bragging, criticism, or questioning. The use of symbolism and veiled reference is especially

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