Nhsc-v1-218

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nhsc-v1-218

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let violations pass. This occurred even during the late period of the monarchy when custom required the death of a child defiling an ali'i with urine unless the child belonged to the ali'i. A story is told of a turn of the century ali'i holding a child while visiting a country area and the child urinating on her. The immediate reaction of the ali'i was to claim the child as her own and then give it back to the parent "to raise for her" with a special commemorative name from the visit.

8/ An example of confusion between the Western concept of etymology and the Hawaiian concept of word power can be seen in the two volume set of Nana I Ke Kumu, one of the most important Hawaiian cultural resources in English, but edited with some English-speaking preconceptions. The author, the venerable and strongly traditional Mary K. Puxu'i, applies the concept of word power to each term described in the volumes. This is firmly part of the Hawaiian tradition and is used beautifully to draw attention to different aspects of various Hawaiian practices. For example, the word 'ohana (family) is related by Puku'i to the somewhat similar sounding 'oha (side shoots of the taro). This she poetically develops" into a beautiful expression of word power stressing the genealogical links of Hawaiian nuclear and extended families and the connection with Haloalaukapalili, a taro plant who was the older brother of the first Hawaiian in traditional genealogies. This explanation is a tribute to the poetic genius of Puku'i and not an etymology, as it is treated by the editor, or even a poetic image that has been recorded from other traditional Hawaiians. By presenting Puku'i's use of word power in such a way as to suggest that it is the same as etymology in the Western sense, these influential volumes actually stifle the creative use of word power in Hawaiian culture. Thus, a native speaker of Hawaiian who wanted to use the word 'ohana to strengthen the concept of working together with hana (work) could be subject to criticism for not knowing the "true" origin of the word 'ohana as shown in Nana I Ke Kumu; this certainly not being the intention of the author.

Another unfortunate aspect of the editing in Nana I Ke Kumu is the spelling of the Hawaiian words. Rather than follow the spelling used in the Hawaiian Dictionary that Puku'i herself authored, the editor haphazardly spelled Hawaiian words, possibly because the spelling of words used together by Puku'i within the Hawaiian concept of word power differed subtly from each other, as in fact they do in pronunciation, e.g., 'ohana and 'oha. The unfortunate result of the sloppy spelling is that those who do not know the Hawaiian language well will try to pronounce words as they are written in the books, thus again weakening the Hawaiian language and culture.

There are numerous other cases especially involving place names, in which a Hawaiian speaker using the concept of word power has been interpreted as giving an etymological derivation, or worse yet an actual "correct" pronunciation of the name. An example is the pronunciation of the island Kaua'i in normal Hawaiian conversation by all native speakers of the language. It has been claimed as "correctly" pronounced Kau'ai (related to the word 'ai, "food") or Kau'a'i (related to the word 'a'l, "neck") by individuals who assumed that a Hawaiian speaker making a point about the island using word power actually meant that these were pronunciations that had been used for generations by Hawaiian speakers.

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