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Pat Morin, who lived in Honolulu for six years and visits the islands frequently, will be writing an ongoing series of articles about Hawaii, culture, police, and their own mysteries for this web site. This is the second installment: Pidgin Language.

Aloha all,

While visiting Hawaii, you'll be introduced to some strange sounding words as well as the soft lyrical timbre of the Hawaiian language.  We can look through the Hawaiian dictionary, but most of the language spoken by the locals is a mix of English, Hawaiian, Portuguese, and all the cultures that sailed in from other countries to work the sugar, pineapple, and macadamia nut farms.  Since there were such diversities, and more cultures joining the plantation ranks, the divergent groups formed words to communicate with one another.

The Chinese were the first Asian immigrants to the islands. By the 1900s, more than sixty percent of the estimated 40,000 Chinese had intermarried.   Many cultures had adapted, at that time, to a Pidgin English to communicate, mixing Portuguese and Chinese with Hawaiian and English.

However, the end result of the changing language, after 100 years, is very interesting. For the fun of it, let's have a short conversation with a pidgin speaking man. We, of course, will speak the English we all have come to know, for the most part, and love, for the most part.

The conference goer: "Hello, it's good to meet you."
The local person: "Hey, howzit, like... um, da kine, ya know?"
Translation: (Hey, how are you and how is, like, everything for you, ya know?)

The conference goer: "I'd like to talk about some of your experiences here in Hawaii. What's it like living here?"
The local person: "Fo' real? Garens—But bussum out u work, too, like de kine, okay? Here cool, grinds, broke da mout', good bruddah,  spahk, we talk story, drink, yeah, like da kine."
Translation: (Really? Sure. But, share with me about your work, too, and all that stuff, okay? Here it's cool, delicious food, good pals. Check it out. We can have a long conversation, drink, and like everything. )

There are some words you will hear OFTEN. The asterisks are next to the most used.

*Brah / bruddah
-Similar to "Brother" or "pal" in slang. Example: "Eh, brah!"

Bussum Out
-I want some, share with me.

*Check U'm Out
- Check it out

*Da kine
-Versatile word used to replace words that can't be remembered or are unknown while you are speaking—or have to do with what is spoken

Fo' What
-Why? How come? "For what".

Fo' Real
-Are you sure. "For real".


Give 'um
-Go for it dude, try your hardest.

-To eat.

-Good food.

Hana Hou
-One more time, do it again.

*Hawaiian Time
-To be late.

Caucasian—can be used as negative—not wanted foreign Caucasian

-"How are you?" "How's it going", or "How have you been?"


Like dis; like dat
-Like this or like that.

What Like Beef
-Do you want to fight?

-Dumb, slow, crazy, does not make sense.
**(Paka is a shortened Hawaiian name meaning Pat, usually Patrick. Lolo means crazy, slow. Pakalolo together means marijuana, pot, wacky weed...)


-Big, tough local.



-Check it out.

-A very tough girl, a girl that thinks she's a guy.

*Talk story
-Conversation at length.

The shakra is the hello and good-bye sign of the Hawaiians.  Most Hawaiians appreciate it if you use it. It's the one where your pinky and thumb are fully extended and the three fingers in the middle are curled inward toward your palm. You shake your hand once or twice.

More to come,
Pat Morin


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