As you may or may not know, I recently escape from my extremely exciting life here in Seattle and travelled back to Kauai for some rest and relaxation. I am quite fortunate to be able to stay with my parents in their guest cottage on Kauai. While not quite the guest house of the TV show Magnum P.I., it suits me well for my vacation needs. http://www.makanacrest.com
As with many people, visiting the old stomping grounds of one’s youth brings memories flooding back. One in particular that annoys me is the recent mainland transplant person that insists on using as many Hawaiian words as they can in their everyday speech. I’m not talking about tourists, I’m talking about the people that retire to Kauai (or any other Hawaiian Island) and try to make you think that they lived there their whole life.
This person could be male or female but they are transplants to the Hawaiian Islands. It is so annoying to see them pretend that they have lived here their whole lives. They sprinkle a few Hawaiian words into their speaking style with such abandonment you swear you were in a 1960’s CIA educational video on “how to blend in” tot the local area.
A lot of the Hawaiian words they use are perfectly fine. However, when they sprinkle them into their regular mainland speech style, it drives me nuts. They clearly don’t know or understand that a whole other dialect of English exists in the Hawaiian Islands. This is called “pidgin” or “pidgin English”. It is a slang that separates the tourist from the locals.
What exactly is a local? I would argue that is someone that is born in the State of Hawaii that has a darker skin tone and a Hawaiian last name. That is a very limited definition because Hawaii is a huge melting pot of different cultures and people. You might have a common German last name but your family is almost all local. And you might have a Hawaiian last name and only be one percent Hawaiian blood. Once you live in Hawaii, you just know who is who from the way they act and talk.
Now, my pet peeve isn’t that I hate anyone that comes to Hawaii to live, my pet peeve is their insane belief that by speaking a few Hawaiian words, everyone will think they are locals and have lived there their whole life.
An example: You are at a fairly public place talking with a friend or spouse about a place on Kauai, our Transplant overhears you and wants to be your “Aloha” friend.
The Transplant of Stupidity (TTS): Aloha! I noticed you were talking about that restaurant, it’s really good.
Me: Oh really. I never did really like it.
TTS: I just took my ohana there and we loved the pupus! I’m a ka’amina and I love to travel from the mauka side of the island here. In fact, last time we were here, we saw some honi swimming in the waves.
Me: Really? Where are you from?
TTS: My hale is in Kapaa.
Me: No, where are you originally from?
TTS: I’m from here.
Me: I think you are not fully understanding my simple question…where did you move from before you lived on Kauai?
TTS: Well, I lived in California (or Washington or Oregon or Utah…it doesn’t matter TTS come from everywhere) before I moved here.
A local person would use pidgin English for that whole conversation and you wouldn’t understand what half of it meant….but the local would.
I know that I will never be considered a “local” on Kauai. Once you are a haole (a foreigner, Caucasian) you are always a haole. You do have friends that are born and raised there and are Caucasian, but are always describe as haole. Their local friends will call them local haoles to separate them from the transplants. I’m not a local haole and I don’t try to pass myself off as one. I do run into people I went to school with on Kauai and I still have friends on Kauai but I don’t speak “pidgin” to the same degree they do. They might say I’m a local haole but I’m not comfortable saying that myself. I accept that I’m a haole and I’ll just stick to my mainland English. I can still wear my local style clothes and eat my local food (because the food is really awesome) but I won’t try to say I’m local (considering I haven’t lived on Kauai since college).
In reality, I’m a tourist in my old stomping grounds and this leads me to enjoy Kauai for the great place it is. I know good bodyboarding beaches and I know good snorkeling spots. I can visit a secluded beach or swim in a mountain stream only the locals know about. I accept that. I just won’t sprinkle Hawaiian words into my speech in a sad attempt to pretend that I lived there my whole life.
A hui hou kakou (until we meet again)…which no one says unless they speak fluent Hawaiian.