Category Archives: Hawaiian Language

“Unfamiliar Fishes” by Sarah Vowell

“Unfamiliar Fishes” by Sarah Vowell

“Unfamiliar Fishes,” is author Sarah Vowell’s new book that focused on what happened when a small group of protestant missionaries sailed from Boston Harbor in 1819 with the goal of saving the souls of the Native Hawaiian people.

Vowell has a great passion for traveling and learning about the history of the places she travels to, therefore this is her third book on U.S. history. The reason she used the words “unfamiliar fishes” was because throughout the book you will stumble upon unfamiliar Hawaiian words such as Kalakaua and Liliuokalani.

“Hawai’i went from having no written language here on the islands to seventy-five percent of all Hawaiians learning to read and write their native language,” said Vowell.

I am currently reading this book and I think it has a lot of humor and facts about the history of Hawai’i and the American Annexation in Hawai’i in 1898 which I found most interesting to read about. Vowell mentioned in the beginning of the article there were an estimated 300,000 native Hawaiians in 1778 Captain James Cook, the first Christian/non-Hawaiian can ashore. By the year 1990, the population of Hawai’i was a minority being a mix between native Hawaiians and Asia descent.

I believe that this is a great book for those interested in Hawaii’s language history because Vowell mentions how Protestant missionaries wanted to help save the Hawaiian language by creating a written language for the natives. Because of this, we now to this day have a written language that people in Hawai’i are learning every day.

Hawaiian immersion schools are teaching the written and oral language and we even have a Hawaiian Language Online Dictionary. Overall, if it was not for the missionaries that traveled to Hawai’i, then the Hawaiian language would not be alive now and Vowell stresses on the specific of this time in history in her novel.

Here are articles about Vowell’s book:

NPR Article

The Kansas City Star Newspaper Article

Here is a link of a video interview with Vowell:

“Money spent on promoting Hawaiian Language is money well spent”

“Money spent on promoting Hawaiian Language is money well spent,” is a recent article published in the Honolulu Star Advertiser on Wednesday March 23, 2011 by Wilson Manuwai Peters, a New York based Hawaiian language consultant.

Peter started off the article by stating that the Hawaiian language is starting to be used in the tourist area a lot. The example he used was when travelers arrive and depart at all state airports and how there is an audio message in the Hawaiian language played in the cabin upon arrival to Hawai’i. In one of my other blogs you can watch the in-flight video.

“If we acknowledge the critical role the Hawaiian culture plays in fueling the visitor industry, then the importance of keeping the Hawaiian language vibrant and in use by residents should be prioritized and looked upon as a meaningful investment that supports the revitalization of the native language and long-term health of Hawaii’s economy.”

– Wilson Manuwai Peters

This part from the article is my opinion in a whole; “The beauty of the Hawaiian language imbues the experience with the spirit of the people and land; no marketing dollars can rival that.” I think that using the Hawaiian language gives a positive effect to so many different aspects in Hawai’i, not just the culture. Growing up speaking the Hawaiian language and culture I would have never thought that I could benefit financially in the future.

Peters mentioned in his article that the money that is being spent on teaching and reinforcing the Hawaiian language is “money well spent.” Therefore, Hawaiian immersion schools are a great way to start off the new generation so they can be bilingual individuals to better our future economy.

“Creating a demand for Hawaiian-speaking employees in the sector will increase the number of Hawaiian-language speakers in the state,” added Peters at the end of the article. In my eyes, this is what it’s all about! As great as how the Hawaiian language is helping Hawai’i’s economy, getting the people of Hawai’i back to speaking their native tongue is what internal benefit of Hawaiian language education.

Link to Article

91st Annual Kamehameha Schools Song Contest

Like immersion schools, Kamehameha Schools uses Hawaiian culture and language as the foundation to their academic system, but is not taught through the Hawaiian language and they have an Admissions Policy  of a preference of students with Native Hawaiian ancestry only.

A big event for Kamehameha Schools is their Annual Song Contest , this year celebrating their 91st anniversary. The competition involves each class competing, each gender class competing, and other small awards.

“The objectives of the song contest are to build up the repertoire of the best in Hawaiian music for the cultural heritage of any student who attends Kamehameha; to develop leadership, cooperation and good class spirit; and to give students the use of their signing voices and to give them pleasure in signing as a means of expression.”

– Laura Brown (Director of Music at Kamehameha Schools from 1926-1947)

There are six different awards awarded at the song contest which you can find on Kamehameha Schools website. All songs performed are in the Hawaiian language. The song contest is also broadcasted statewide in Hawai’i and streamed live off the internet, so I was able to watch it while in California when it streamed on March 18, 2011.

My favorite award to always look out for is the Richard Lyman Jr. ‘Ōlelo Makuahine (Mother Tongue) Award because being fluent in Hawaiian I expect this performance to be the best. This year my favorite class was of course the senior class, both girls and boys who won the Charles Edward King Cup. I enjoyed when they sang “E Maliu Mai” by a well known musician in Hawai’i, Irmgard Aluli. This performance was very beautiful describing Aluli’s matrimonial masterpiece and one of my favorite Hawaiian love songs. Here is the video below:

Ka Leo ‘Oiwi – New Hawaiian Language Sitcom

A brief background of ‘Aha Punana Leo the Hawaiian Language Program that was founded in 1983 with a dream that the Hawaiian language during that time on the edge of extinction might survive for future generations is the foundation of Hawaiian immersion education, having a few elders and less than fifty children under the age of eighteen at the time being fluent in Hawaiian.

A little over a year ago, ‘Aha Punana Leo has applied and successfully received a grant from the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) which is an organization that promotes the goal of self-sufficiency and cultural preservation of American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and other Native Pacific Islanders organizations. It was a 2.1 million dollar grant in which ‘Aha Punana Leo created three projects and Ka Leo ‘Oiwi was one of them.

‘Oiwi TV is the first and only Native Hawaiian television station that offers programming from timely news, documentaries, children’s programming, and Hawaiian language instruction with a mission to strengthen the Hawaiian identity and normalize the Hawaiian perspective through mainstream media.

Ka Leo ‘Oiwi is one of the projects funded by the ANA grant used by ‘Aha Punana Leo and broadcasted through the ‘Oiwi TV network. Ka Leo ‘Oiwi is basically a new sitcom that teaches Hawaiian language in a social setting that may seem informal but very informative by teaching the Hawaiian language.

Throughout this first year of the grant, Ka Leo ‘Oiwi has created thirteen episodes and they will be launching their first episode in the next month. This sitcom involves three characters who are young native Hawaiian speakers who live in a beach house and the episodes will include everyday conversations, such as cooking and hanging out with friends. Within these regular conversations, the characters will incorporate Hawaiian language in everything they do in order to slowly teach viewers Hawaiian.

When I was in elementary I remember I used to watch a Hawaiian language sitcom that only lasted for two years that was called Kulaiwi that had a grandmother that speaks Native Hawaiian that would write lessons on the board and teach Hawaiian language. In my opinion, Ka Leo ‘Oiwi is a better way for people to adapt to because there are young actors and the situations will be easier for the new generation to understand with these fresh ideas.

Hawaiian activism expressed through music and its messages

In the beginning of March I believe that ‘Aha’i ‘Olelo Ola the Hawaiian language news program that covers issues, people, and events from a uniquely Hawaiian perspective conducted one of their best stories yet. The story focused on Hawaiian activism through music and its messages and here is the actual news program  All genres of music in general play a uniquely important role in people’s lives because of the messages they have to offer. This story included a pair of various Hawaiian musicians whose music involves the pulse of the Hawaiian activism movement.

If you are not familiar with the History of Hawai’i before it was a state you should know that in the late 19th century through the early 20th century the kingdom of Hawaii was overthrown by the United States. At first, the U.S. made many strict laws such as banning the Hawaiian language and cultural practices, but now they have changed drastically, but there are still strong Hawaiian activist that are fighting for the freedom of Hawaii as if it was their own country.

The story started by introducing Jon Osorio a Hawaiian musician famous during the 1980’s for composing music that created deep messages focusing on the activism in Hawaii trying to create social change. One of Osorio’s famous songs entitles, “Hawaiian Soul” talks about the issue regarding the island of Kaho’olawe that was taken under the U.S. Navy in the fifties and how the Hawaiian community feels that it is an injustice for the Navy to just leave the island dirty and useless.

Osorio mentioned that nowadays people are saying that there is not enough meaningful music related to Hawaiian activism in the music industry, but Osorio disagrees pointing out Sudden Rush a group of Hawaiian rappers that write and perform songs promoting a conscious awareness for Hawaiian rights. According to Osorio, “The Hawaiian activism is about reclaiming the language.” Growing up with Hawaiian being my first language and being extremely immersed in the culture, I believe that a lot of local Hawaiian music consists of messages related to Hawaiian activism issues and injustices and how we as a Native Hawaiians can better these issues.

Here is a music video of a song entitled “EA” which means sovereighty and independence written and composed by Sudden Rush and is one of my favorite songs by them:

Small efforts to enhance the Hawaiian language

Hawaiian immersion education is the greatest achievement so far for the revitalization of the Hawaiian language. The Hawaiian language is growing rapidly, from day care schools to a college degree in which all academics are taught through the Hawaiian language.

Because of immersion schools children are taught from when they are toddlers throughout high school and some even make a career majoring in Hawaiian language or studies. Most graduates from these immersion schools complete their college education and connect their career through giving back to the Hawaiian community.

Besides great achievements like Hawaiian immersion education, there are also small successes being achieved in the Native Hawaiian community. A goal for the Hawaiian immersion community is to enhance the knowledge of the Hawaiian language and culture in Hawai’i. A few Hawaiian immersion graduates and other Native Hawaiian individuals brainstorm and propose certain projects in which they can reach out to the community through the Hawaiian language.

A week ago, ‘Aha’i Olelo Ola, the Hawaiian language news program that covers issues, people, and events from a uniquely Hawaiian perspective announced that from now on there is going to be an in-flight programming for airlines to use when welcoming visitors and residents to Hawai’i using the Hawaiian language.

This is an example of a small way in which Native Hawaiian speakers are trying to teach visitors and even locals the Hawaiian language by greeting them to the islands in Hawaiian, with English captions on the screen.

I believe that this is not only a great way in which the Hawaiian language is expanding, but it is a great way for malihini (visitors) to see how Hawai’i is dedicated at making sure that they have a great experience on their visit. “Ho’okahi la a ka malihini, a lilo i ‘ohana,” an ancient Hawaiian proverb meaning, one day you are a visitor, the next you are family, a sincere belief in the Hawaiian culture.

Video of In-Flight Programming upon Arrival to Hawai’i: