|Previous Page||Next Page|
The basic premise that a strong Hawaiian culture cannot continue without a strong Hawaiian language should be easily understood without analysis of complicated literature such as the Hawaiian chant of creation (the Kumulipo). It could be overwhelming to dwell on various nuances of Hawaiian literature, which might underestimate the human potential to learn the use of the Hawaiian language in its traditional context.
Hawaiian children should find it sinple to learn the intricacies of Hawaiian poetic thought and expression, due to the essential continuation of a basic Hawaiian cultural personality among the majority of Hawaiian people who do not control the language. Furthermore, Hawaiians have traditionally believed that deceased friends and ancestors could assist poetic composition through dreams or visions.
Culture can be seen at two levels, base culture and aesthetic culture. The base culture includes the daily lifestyle, values, and personality of a people. The aesthetic culture includes ceremonies, philosophy, and literature, building upon the base culture foundation and legitimizing it to the people. Language generally unites the two. The features of Hawaiian aesthetic culture derive, then, from the same features that unite most of today's young English-speakinq Hawaiians with older and previous generations. For example, in the area of language use, the attention to specific detail found in Hawaiian poetry and quotations from sayings is also evident in the normal conversation of Hawaiians. Local people often report a conversation by quoting exactly what someone said, when haole (foreign) people would give an approximation. (The conflict between these two strategies is often irritating; to the Hawaiian because of lack of detail and accuracy, and to the haole because of anxiousness to get to the central point.) On the other hand, also as in Hawaiian poetry, local people value getting their own thoughts across with the least number of words, thus making an understanding of their personality a matter of subtlety and personal sensitivity on the part of the listener. Haole people, on the other hand, tend to say as much as they can with the hopes that their true personality or interests will be immediately perceived by the listener, in order to avoid any mistakes. The fact that most modern Hawaiians retain a strong Hawaiian base culture makes involvement in the traditional aesthetic culture a natural for them, once the full mechanics of the language are mastered.
The beneficial role of the aesthetic culture in supporting the base culture is also important to emphasize in the context of language. The aesthetic culture contains stories, sayings, and traditional customs—all of which reinforce values inherent in the base culture. Thus, base culture and aesthetic culture work together toward a cultural ideal. When a language that holds the key to the aesthetic culture of a people is replaced with a language foreign to their base culture, the result is damaging conflict between the traditional base culture and the new aesthetic culture. The base culture becomes redefined as an aberrant subculture within the culture of the replacement language, and the original people are faced with a choice of abandoning the base culture that represents their family and friends, or rejection of the ideals of the new aesthetic culture, which sets the means for acceptance and success in their daily society. Unfortunately,
|Previous Page||Next Page|