How Do I Know If I’m a Katonk?
My friend Carrie just moved here from the East Coast and landed a nursing job at Maui Memorial. She was born on the Mainland and is Asian-American…she looks local, yet she doesn’t understand pidgin one bit. I told her, “Oh nah! Try read my blogs, sistah!” (20 Easy Ways to Speak Mo’ Bettah Pidgin Today and the follow-up Try Wait: 13 More Tips on How to Speak Mo’ Bettah Pidgin.)
Local products on the shirt “Local Boy Poi” for Kahala, designed by Anna Severson (for real)
She asked me what it means when people say, “Shoots” or “Shoots den!” She thought it had a negative connotation, like “darn” or “shoot.”
Carrie: “Would you like to get your flu shot today?”
Local person: “Shoots den.”
Carrie is then wondering, “Is that a yes or a no?” Shoots / Shoots Den means yes, go for it now! No problem!
Carrie is what you’d call a Katonk; someone who looks local but is just off the boat. Technically Katonk means Asian, but now kinda refers to anyone with black hair who hasn’t integrated and probably wears closed-toe shoes…
After that, Carrie asked, “What’s with the choke turtles?” She Googled choking turtles and couldn’t find anything. “Are they choking on pollution?” Choke means get plenny kine. There are lots of turtles in the bay out here, but they are healthy, not choking on anything!
A Few Mo’ Da Kine
Ohana – Family, group, neighborhood. Oh look, also a Hawaiian real estate term! A small home or studio apartment, either attached or separate from the main home, usually reserved for the family (“Mother-in-Law Quarters”) is called an Ohana.
A No-Hana is when the Ohana is not fully permitted (I believe credit goes to Fred Haywoood for coining this term). Example of a No-Hana is the attached living space with a bathroom and “wet-bar” – the lot is just a tiny bit too small for a second home with a full kitchen – on Waianae Place (MLS# 371272).
A “No-Hana” upstairs at 173 Waianae Place
Maka-Dang-Dang – Mismatched and funky. A house with pink and green paint and a rusted tin roof with a refrigerator in the yard is maka-dang-dang. Or someone wearing florals mixed with stripes stay maka-dang-dang.
Ukus – Head lice. If you see someone itching their head, da buggah probably has ukus. Why is it called an Ukulele? Because da fingers jump like ukus on the strings.
Mana – Spirit, energy. A place where you can feel the mana is Moku’ula, where Hawaiian royalty once lived.
Try wait, da dock stay broke
You wen stay come or stay go?…Stay replaces the verb “to be.” Stay broke.
Wen – Past tense. I wen go. Dey wen go chop down one mango tree.
Try wait/Try stay – Why add the “try?” Jus’ try relax and go with it. I goin’ try stay go now.
Mahalo for reading.