Nhsc-v1-217

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nhsc-v1-217

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4/ Fornander, pp. 67-68.

5/ It is a common claim of individuals who do not speak the Hawaiian language (and who are unfamiliar with Hawaiian as it is spoken today) that the pronunciation of the language was radically changed when it was committed to writing. This is not true. The language has continued to be pronounced in the same regional ways up to today, with any reduction in certain regional pronunciation habits due to the movement of people between islands, rather than the effect of the writing system. For speakers of Hawaiian in the nineteenth century who did not speak English, there was no way for them to know the symbolic value of the letters in English and, furthermore, people are usually not aware of the different pronunciations that they give phonemes (or letters in writing) in any language. An example from English is the phoneme t, which has variable pronunciations between dialects and even between different positions in words in the same dialect. In many North American dialects of English, t is pronounced like a d or Japanese r between vowels, e.g., writer (rider); as a glottal stop before a vowel followed by n, e.g., button (ba'n); and as a simple t (with slight aspiration) at the beginning of a word, e.g., toad (thoad). British and (local Hawai'i) English speakers have different patterns for pronouncing t and most speakers of the language do not notice their own pronunciations of the phoneme t. Similarly, it is often easier to imitate a dialect that is different from one's own than to tell exactly how it is different.

Just like English speakers, Hawaiian speakers are not usually aware of how they pronounce each letter in the written language, and regional pronunciations have continued.

For English speakers to assume that the form of the letters in the written Hawaiian alphabet would affect the native speakers' pronunciation of Hawaiian is as silly as expecting the same thing to have occurred in English where the values given to many letters are different from the usual usage in other European languages; e.g., a as in cat, e as in beet and late, etc.

6/ The lyrics to English songs and even English rhyming schemes appear very dull to traditional Hawaiian ears because they are so predictable and often overly repetitive. The most bothersome thing is the way in which English songs lay bare for any old stranger to hear and comment on the composer's (and honoree's) "undying love" (popular songs), "sexual arousal" (rock songs), "public love of Jesus" (gospel songs), etc.

7/ Lest one think that Hawaiian culture is the only one in which a fundamental concept can be applied to extremes, it should be pointed out that similar situations exist in American culture. The American concept of the power of law (that is, sentences of words set down by agreed-upon procedures) is very strong. If, for example, a confessed mass murderer is able to find even the tiniest loophole in the written law intended to punish his crime, he can go free even if he openly declares his intention to do more killings. Similarly, a law that required death for stealing a horse could theoretically result in the execution of someone who stole a horse in order to save someone else's life.

In Hawaiian culture, the extremes that resulted from full application of certain concepts (e.g., the elevation of the group's lineage through impressive kapu applied to the group's senior line) were tempered by the concept of aloha that allowed ali'i to

-p217-

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