Nhsc-v1-201

From GrassrootWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Previous Page Next Page

nhsc-v1-201

Text Only

has a pidgin-like history. 29/ This status has nothing to do with the structure of the language, which is in some ways more intricate than Standard English (particularly in its tense structure), but with its historical connection with broken English. Since the position of one's language in the hierarchy of English dialects affects the impression one gives in both the educational and employment fields, pidgin labels its speakers as unqualified, no matter what their intellect. Also, since the pidgin culture is a subculture of the larger American English-speaking culture, its nenbers geneially accept the status hierarchy and apply it themselves! An amazing example of this is the fact that as Hawaiian-speaking ministers die off, Hawaiian congregations are replacing them, not from their own pidgin-speaking ranks, but with mainland, Standard American English speakers. Thus, the replacement of Hawaiian with pidgin has taken Hawaiians (except those of Ni'ihau) to the final point of loss of control over themselves, which first occurred when the decision was made that members of the English-speaking missionary community would be appropriate in high government service, performing duties formerly handled by members of the Hawaiian-speaking community.

Present thinking in Hawai'i is that elimination of pidgin in favor of Standard American English will solve many educational and occupational problems for local people. The history of what has happened with the replacement of Hawaiian by English does not support this thinking. The worst scenario (with the elimination of this last true linguistic unifying factor of Hawaiians) is that Hawaiians would be considered completely assimilated and the term "Hawaiian" would be applied to anyone resident or born in Hawai'i. This would open up the loss of rights that accompany the Hawaiian identity, and the dispersal of Hawaiians for economic reasons from their traditional homeland to lower economic areas on the North American continent.

Even if it were desirable to replace pidgin with American English (because of the fact that any slight non-North American feature can be used to label a person a speaker of "pidgin"), it will never be completely possible to eliminate the local sound, and the accompanying negative reaction it evinces in speakers of Standard American English. Just as it will never be possible for New Yorkers to all sound like Texans, it will never be possible for all local people to speak like Nebraskans, for the simple reason of demographics. Another reason that pidgin cannot be replaced altogether by Standard American English is that it carries a very positive and highly-valued association with the local Hawai'i identity. For non-Hawaiian, immigrant-descended "locals," whose ancestors may have spoken good Hawaiian and who certainly spoke the broken plantation language, abandonment of pidgin is a possibility if they wish to give up their local identity. Most do not, and there is ample evidence for non-Hawaiian locals emphasizing their localness over their own ethnic background, as well as over any identity with Standard American English.

For Hawaiians, however, localness is included in their Hawaiian blood and appearance. They have no choice of becoming a Japanese-American or Filipino-American (versus a local Hawai'i-Japanese or a local Hawai'i-Filipino), with an identity that does not include Hawai'i. A Hawaiian must always be identified

-p201-

Previous Page Next Page