Friday, November 12, 2010

Hawaii Five-O and Hawaiian Language

As I mentioned last week, CBS is filming new Hawaii Five-O episodes on the grounds and in the parking lot outside my office.  We caught a few glimpses of the actors and saw them running around and even doing a car chase.

I'd be curious to know whether anyone actually 1) watches the show or 2) thinks it's any good.  Someone asked me last week whether I talk about the show because I thought it was good or just because it's filmed outside my office window.  I have to admit, I think I watch it primarily because I recognize a lot of the landmarks that are seen in the show.  I also watch it because everyone in Hawai'i watches it and discusses it on Tuesday.  You sort of have to watch it if you don't want people to think you're rejecting their culture.  It's already bad enough I refuse to eat spam or wear a Hawaiian shirt to work (more on that another time).  The show itself is entertaining, but it is definitely a little cheesy with ridiculous dialogues.  There is also a lot of over-acting.  I still think it's worth checking out, though.  And for my friends working in big law firms, it airs right around the time you get home from work (i.e. Mondays 10/9c).

Anyway, today I learned something new about the show. Each episode has a title that is not in English.  The titles are in Hawaiian.  They also never appear on screen.  They're found in the TV listings and are often mentioned in social media outlets that discuss the show.  The titles to the first 7 shows are: "Ohana," "Malama ka Aina," "Lanakila," "Nalowale," "Ko'olauloa," "Ho'apono," and "Mana'o." Next week's show is called "Po'ipu," and the following week is "Hao Kanaka."   I never really noticed the names (probably because I had no idea what they meant), but it turns out it was a deliberate move by the show's producers.  They apparently wanted to give each episode a "Hawaiian identity," to make it unique and make it feel like these are stories that could only be told in Hawaii.  The producers also hoped "mainlanders" would take the time to find out what the names meant so it would be an "interactive experience."  Well, have no fear my devoted blog fans, I have decided to do the work for you.  Here are the names of the shows that have aired so far and their corresponding English translation:

Ohana: Family (This is actually a pretty common word used in everyday conversation in Hawaii.  People use it all the time to convey a community feeling.  You'll also hear businesses use it in commercials saying their customers are part of their Ohana.);

Malama ka Aina: Caring for the Land (malama means "to care for" and 'aina means "land");

Lanakila: Victory; triumph;

Nalowale: Lost, gone, forgotten;

Ko'olauloa: Ko'olau means "windward" and loa means "long."  It really refers to a long fishing line because of the history of this area, which is on the north shore of Oahu.  The valleys from La'ie to Kahana are well-watered and fertile. The most famous god of this land was Kamapua'a ("Pig-Child") whose home was in the valley of Kaliuwa'a (Sacred Falls) in Kaluanui. The gods Kane and Kanaloa wandered through this district, creating springs and fishing.  Fish is abundant in the area and the coastline is noted for its shark gods and shark men (mano kanaka). The episode was about a surfer who got killed and the suspect was an that translates to shark gods, I have no idea, but there ya go;

Ho'apono: To approve; a true friend;

Mana'o: Thought, idea, belief, opinion, theory, desire, and want;

Po'ipu: To cover over entirely, as of clouds or engulfing waves;

Hao Kanaka: Hao means "iron" or is the general name for metal tools; Kanaka means "person, mankind, or individual."

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