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geometry, anatomy, music, trigonometry, Greek, English, Hawaiian language, and composition, all through the medium of Hawaiian language.
Lahainaluna was the cornerstone of the government department of education that developed in 1840 to coordinate schools of the kingdom. Lahainaluna supplied texts and periodicals through its press and trained native Hawaiian-speaking teachers. The school was also the primary source of many of the Hawaiian ministers, lawyers, politicians, and judges of the monarchy and later the Territory of Hawaii. Individuals educated in the better Hawaiian medium schools received broad exposure to Western knowledge, but within a generally Hawaiian context since almost all the teachers in the system were Hawaiians themselves. Hawaiian cultural topics appear to have been actively used as topics for compositions, and many Lahainaluna graduates became well-known writers on Hawaiian topics for the Hawaiian publications.
The great enthusiasm of the nineteenth and twentieth century Hawaiians for written literature in their own language has left today's Hawaiian people with a tremendous gift, although one that they cannot fully appreciate without an ability to read their ancestral language. In the some five hundred years between the Christianization of the English and their conquest by the Norman French, the Anglo-Saxons preserved very little literature relating to their pre-contact past. The most famous of these, the epic poem Beowulf, is somewhat comparable to Hawai'i's Kumulipo preserved by Hawaiian writers, although one can find some Christian influence in Beowulf. While much cf Old English poetry concerns Christian topics, Hawaiian writers generally chose traditional topics, shown not only in their great interest in recording old chants but also in their own compositions. Historians of English are proud of the development of an early English prose tradition that consisted primarily of translations from well-known texts in Latin. Baugh states:
- In the development of literature, prose generally comes late. Verse is more effective for oral delivery and more easily retained in the memory. It is therefore a rather remarkable fact, and one well worthy of note, that English possessed a considerable body of prose literature in the ninth century (Note: This is three hundred years after initial introduction of writing), at a time when most other modern languages in Europe had scarcely developed a literature in verse. 19/
It is surprising for students of the Hawaiian language to discover that English had no tradition of prose until the introduction of Christianity. Early Hawaiian writers recorded many long Hawaiian prose stories, some of the more famous are sagas of Pele and Hi'iaka, Kawelo, Kamapua'a, and La'ieikawai. Not satisfied with a single version, early Hawaiian writers sometimes wrote down regional or period variants of Hawaiian sagas. Like the newly literate Anglo-Saxons, the Hawaiians translated works from other languages into their own tongue, but there are also a number of original compositions, including several histories of the people and descriptions of foreign travel. Through their writings, these people preserved and created a body of written Hawaiian literature within approximately a one hundred-year span that is comparable
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