Visiting Hawaii you will see amazing sites and experience true beauty. There are many historical landmarks, unusual tastes and beautiful music. The Hawaiian language or ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi Hawaiian Language and English have been the official languages of Hawaii. Last year, another language, Pidgin was made official. As you experience the island you will encounter standard English and the casual language of the ‘locals’, the island residents. Hawaiian Pidgin is a rich and melodious language and spoken across generations. Hawaiian and Pidgin are very different and are not to be confused.
For various reasons, including territorial legislation establishing English as the official language in schools, the number of native speakers of Hawaiian gradually decreased during the period from the 1830s to the 1950s. Hawaiian was essentially displaced by English on six of seven inhabited islands. In 2001, native speakers of Hawaiian amounted to under 0.1% of the statewide population. Linguists were unsure that Hawaiian and other endangered languages would survive.
Nevertheless, from around 1949 to the present day, there has been a gradual increase in attention to and promotion of the language.
During Makoa Quest tours, Hawaiian words/phrases and meanings are taught and explored.
So where did Pidgin come from? It’s important to note that Hawaiian Pidgin is not broken English. It’s a culturally diverse language that has historically evolved into an acceptable form of communication.
Many cultures were brought to Hawaii to farm, ranch and harvest. The agricultural and economic contributions of the Japanese, Chinese, Hawaiian, English, Portuguese and Filipino were enormous. Together the cultures lived and worked on plantations, farms, ranches and other businesses. Immigrants brought their families, rich cultures and languages to Hawaii. Their diversity limited their abilities to effectively communicate with each other and lunas, their bosses. Hawaiian Pidgin was born out of the need to communicate. Along with English, immigrants blended sounds and borrowed words from all the different cultures.
It is reported that more than 320,000 people spoke a language other than English at home. The top two languages spoken other than English are Tagalog and Ilocano. Japanese, Spanish, and Hawaiian rounded out the top five.
While you visit, hopefully you will be enriched by exploring the languages of the islands.