Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pidgin Lesson

When I wrote about the Hawaii Five-0 episode titles recently, I noted that they were in Hawaiian.  There has been a resurgence of late trying to incorporate more of the Hawaiian language into everyday life.  If you don't live here, or haven't lived here very long, then you probably won't notice.  The change has occurred over the last 10-15 years.  That is for the actual Hawaiian language.  Pidgin, however, is the "street language" that you will hear wherever you go.  It's hard to explain without a voice sample, but essentially it is a relaxed form of proper English (think the polynesian form of ebonics). This website says I'm wrong.  It says that pidgin is a form of creole.  Like when Oakland tried to teach ebonics in school because it was a "recognized language." Yeah, if you're retarded.

Pidgin is actually a legitimate language phenomenon that develops as a way for divergent groups to communicate with each other when they don't have a language in common. It is usually employed in situations such as trade, or where both groups speak languages different from the language of the country in which they reside.  This makes sense for Hawai'i since the Native Hawaiians, for example, are really a mix of all the polynesian island groups and tribes.

Today, pidgin is easily distinguishable because there is a sort of "accent" that comes along with it.  If you've been keeping up with Hawaii Five-0, then you've undoubtedly heard Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim) use some pidgin.  You just may not have known what the hell he was saying.  Below is a list of the most common pidgin phrases that you may come across.  I wouldn't recommend trying to use them.  It's pretty easy to tell when someone is faking it, and then you just look foolish.  But try to listen for it if you're ever in Hawaii (hint: you won't hear it in the tourist resorts...).

An' den - And then? (Dude, Where's My Car? Anyone?)
Ass right - That's right
Brah - Friend, Brother (used ALL THE TIME)
Brok' da mouf - Delicious
Bus nose - Something smells bad
Choke - Plenty of something
Cockaroach - Rip off, steal
Da Kine - Used for EVERYTHING.  This is heard all the time, too.  You can literally use it for anything.  If you see something awesome, it's common to shout out, "That's da kine, brah" - seriously. This is my life.
Grind - Eat
Grinds - Food
Howzit - How's it going.  This is a VERY common way that locals greet each other.  It is also a fast way to tell if someone lives in Hawaii or is just a tourist.  I find that white people use it more often because even if you live here, if you're white, people still think you're a tourist.  But locals use it, too.
Mek plate - make yourself a plate of food
Moke - A large, local, toughguy
O wot? - Or what?
Pau Hana - After work (usually in reference to happy hour)
Shahkbait - Shark Bait, meaning pale, untanned people (I particularly like this one because I recently had a few visitors who are...well...shahkbait).
Shaka - Great! (This is also the name for the common Hawaiian greeting with the thumb and pinky finger extended)
Talk story - Shooting the breeze
Yeah? - Used at the end of sentences (This is also very common.  So common in fact that I do it and don't even realize it and was told recently that it is quite annoying).

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