Arts and Culture

The Unique Language of Pidgin in Hawaii

Pidgin is a creole language that originated in Hawaii during the 19th century and is spoken by many residents of the state today. It is a mix of English and Hawaiian, with influences from other languages such as Portuguese, Chinese, and Japanese, due to the diverse immigrant population in Hawaii.

Pidgin is often referred to as “Hawaii Creole English” or “Hawaii Pidgin English,” and it is not to be confused with the standard English language spoken in Hawaii. Pidgin is a unique and distinct language with its own grammar, vocabulary, and syntax.

A number of examples are below:

  • Aurite: Alright
  • Bambucha: Huge
  • Bocha: Bathe
  • Bodda you?: Does this bother you?
  • Brah: Brother
  • Broke da mout: Incredibly delicious food
  • Bumbai: Otherwise; Or else; Later
  • Choke: A lot; many
  • Da kine: the one; the best
  • Eriding: Everything
  • Geev em: Go for it
  • Grindz: Food
  • Hammajang: Messed up
  • Howzit?:  How are you?
  • Junk: No good; broken
  • Kapu: Caution; keep out
  • K’den: Okay then
  • Like Beef?: You want to fight?
  • Lolo buggah: Crazy guy/girl
  • Manini: Small
  • Mo’ bettah: Good/Better idea
  • Niele: Nosy
  • Pau: Finished
  • Puka: Hole
  • Scoop: News; gossip
  • Shaka: Excellent; cool
  • Shoots: In agreement; let’s do it
  • Slippahs: Flip flops
  • Spahk: See; look
  • Tantaran: Show off; boastful
  • Talk Story: Talking among friends
  • Try move: Move out of the way
  • Wikiwiki: Fast; hurry

Pidgin first emerged in Hawaii during the plantation era, when a large number of immigrants from various countries came to work on the sugar and pineapple plantations. These immigrants, who spoke different languages, needed a common way to communicate with each other, so they developed a simplified version of English that combined elements from various languages. This new language, Pidgin, became a lingua franca among the plantation workers and was passed down to future generations.

Today, Pidgin is spoken by many people in Hawaii, including both native Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians. It is commonly used in everyday conversation, and it is often used as a second language by people who speak English as their first language. Pidgin is also used in the media, such as in local radio and television programs.

While Pidgin is not an official language of Hawaii, it is an important part of the state’s culture and history. Many people in Hawaii are proud of their Pidgin and use it as a way to connect with their heritage and identity.

Pidgin has its own unique vocabulary, which includes words and phrases that are not found in standard English. For example, “da kine” is a common expression in Pidgin that can mean anything or nothing at all. It is often used as a placeholder for a word that the speaker cannot remember or does not know. Other common Pidgin words and phrases include “broke da mout” (delicious), “shoots” (thank you), and “wassup” (what’s up?).

Pidgin also has its own grammar and syntax, which differ from standard English. For example, in Pidgin, the verb “go” is often used to indicate a future event, while in standard English, the verb “will” is used. Pidgin also has its own unique sentence structure, with the subject, verb, and object often appearing in different orders than in standard English.

Despite its widespread use in Hawaii, Pidgin is often stigmatized and is not considered a “proper” language by some people. However, Pidgin is a fully developed language with its own unique structure and vocabulary, and it is an important part of Hawaii’s cultural identity. It is a living, evolving language that reflects the diverse history and culture of Hawaii.

In summary, Pidgin is a creole language that originated in Hawaii during the 19th century and is spoken by many residents of the state today. It is a mix of English and Hawaiian, with influences from other languages, and it is an important part of Hawaii’s cultural identity. Pidgin has its own unique vocabulary, grammar, and syntax, and it is a fully developed language in its own right.

Let’s Chat

Give me a call at 808.938.3910 or email me if you are interested in learning more about pidgin or anything in general about life on the Big Island of Hawaii.

 

 

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Alain Geoffrey

December 22, 2022

I love the Hawaiian islands , we have been there multiple times and I have come to be very interested in the Hawaiian language and its derivations….this article is very interesting to me.
thank you!

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