Nhsc-v1-198

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nhsc-v1-198

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aware and anxious to participate in a worldwide language revival movement. As history developed, however, the schools eliminated their language from the lives of several generations of Hawaiians.

The Role of Pidgin

In the previous section, a form of broken Hawaiian used with foreigners is described. This language, which originated before the missionaries established the English-speaking community in Hawai'i, has as its descendant, "pigdin," the language that has been used in an attempt to fill the void caused by the eradication of Hawaiian. The replacement is hardly equal to Hawaiian in the realm of aesthetic culture, but it serves well the primary role of any language in the base culture: the identification of a people as a unique and cohesive entity, with continuity of basic family values.

Pidgin as we know it today is termed "Hawai'i Creole English" by linguists who have shown great interest in its development as proof of the language-generating ability of the brain in filling a language void. Pidgin, like Hawaiian at the time of annexation, is identified with locals; that is, people whose primary cultural identification is with Hawai'i. This includes all Hawaiians and the majority of plantation descendants, but not the descendants of the original English-speaking community. The term is not truly racial, since "local" includes descendants of Portuguese, Russian, Scandinavian, and German plantation laborers, as well as the Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Okinawan, Puerto Rican, Gilbertese, and other ethnic groups that were brought to Hawai'i to supplement the Hawaiian group.

Besides the primary cultural identification, there is also a class identification, growing out of the fact that the English speakers tended (and still tend) to hold better-paying and more prestigious jobs. Linguistically, pidgin is a full and complicated language, but sociologically it is identified by negatives—that is, not being North American English. There are certainly many differences between the local pidgin and North American English. These include:

  • Pronunciation (for example, pronouncing rotten as raten rather than the general American ra'n);
  • Intonation (for example, the use of the question intonation of the Hawaiian language rather than of English);
  • Vocabulary (for example, using soda for American pop, and funny kind for American weird);
  • Stress (that is, following the Hawaiian rule of penultimate stress rather than an American tendency towards antepenultimate stress, as in local strawberry versus American strawberry); and
  • Grammar (for example, use of the Hawaiian calque "Long time, I never go," where American English would use "I haven't gone for a long time.")

The examples below give further illustration of the nature of pidgin, showing the strong Hawaiian language origins of pidgin, combined with the genius for language creation exhibited by the children who first made it their own language.

I no more money.
(I don't have any money.)
You go come on your pickup.
(Come in your pickup.)
-p198-

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