Hawai’i Has Three Official Languages

[November 2015] Hawaiian Pidgin English (Hawaii Pidgin English or simply Pidgin English) is now listed as one of the official languages in the Hawaiian island chain along with the native indigenous Hawaiian language (‘Ōlelo Hawai’i) and U.S. American English.

Spoken for decades, Hawaiian Pidgin English is now officially recognized by the U.S. Census Bureau after a five-year survey was conducted interviewing more than 325,000 Hawaiian – Local residents from 2009 to 2013, asking whether they spoke any language in their homes other than English. Hawaiian Pidgin English is the primary and commonly used means to communicate by the majority of Hawaii residents.

Hawaiian Pidgin English

Hawaiian Pidgin originated on sugar & pineapple plantations as a form of communication used between English speaking residents/employees and non-English speaking Native Hawaiians and foreign immigrants such as Filipino, Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, Korean, Puerto Rican, etc. The Pidgin language evolved from the mid to late 1800’s to the early 1900’s. Today’s Hawaiian Pidgin English has different variables from the original plantation pidgin. The most notable is the addition of modern day or urban slang; The language is an ongoing evolution.

Those unfamiliar with Hawaiian Pidgin may mistake it as being sub-standard or broken English. In actuality, Hawaiian Pidgin is a complex language containing words from several languages, pronunciation, and slang combined. It also has distinct grammatical forms not found in Standard American English, but some of which are shared with other dialectal forms of English or may derive from other linguistic influences. While someone unfamiliar with the culture may get away with words or short phrases (there are books published for entertainment), it’s safe to say Hawaiian Pidgin is a language one cannot simply learn by a book or class courses. If can, can. No can, no can. You dunno, no even…

Hawaii Pidgin English vs Hawaiian Creole

What’s the difference between Hawaii Pidgin English and Hawaiian Creole? What do we Locals speak? By official definition you could say the people of Hawaii speak a Hawaiian Creole although we still call it Pidgin English. Here’s the breakdown…

Pidgin language, is a simplified language that develops as a means of communication between two or more groups that do not have a language in common such as the plantation worker migration to Hawaii.

The Pidgin English that is spoken today is considered a type of Creole language. Hawaiian Creole in it’s own is different from pidgin. Creole is a stable natural language developed from the mixing of parent languages. A creole is believed to arise when a pidgin, developed by adults for use as a second language, becomes the native and primary language of their children.

So, as our grandparents or great grandparents spoke pidgin as a second language (to their native nationality) to communicate with fellow plantation workers, we as 2nd, 3rd, 4th generations from Hawaii speak a creole, our first natural language. Get’um – Got’em! K-den…

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