Hawaiian Pidgin as an Indicator of Class and Prestige Essay

Hawaiian Pidgin as an Indicator of Class and Prestige Essay

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Hawaiian Pidgin as an Indicator of Class and Prestige
Hawaiian “Pidgin” is a simplified version of English formed by Hawaii’s natives, traders, and immigrants from several countries. Originally a language used for trade, Hawaii’s dependence on English-speaking countries transformed pidgin into Creole. Although still called “Pidgin”, it eventually evolved into a Creole dialect, the first of many skewed English words in this dialect. In the words of John Reinecke, a Hawaiian scholar, “Pidgin is the means of communication between traffickers. Creole is imposed upon a dependent, often a servile, class.” (Tokimasa and Reinecke 48) English-speaking haoles’, a Hawaiian word that originally meant “foreigner” but eventually defined long-term resident Caucasians (Grant 142) would send orders through a Telephone Game-esque system. The foremen would use their broken English in Sugar Plantations. Next, the immigrant laborers would further distort and simplify words when they attempted to communicate their necessities to other ethnicities. Eventually, English became an indicator of prestige, class, and education. (Tokimasa and Reinecke 49). Both historically and in Yamanaka’s Behold the Many, standard English is a language of status, while Creole is an instrument of basic survival and laboring business.
Between 1788 and 1830, overseas English-speaking Sandalwood traders and sailors first introduced the English language to the Hawaiian natives. The traders initially attempted to learn Hawaiian, but eventually the traders’ foreign business assimilated their foreign culture, helping make the transition from Pidgin English to a Creole Dialect (Smith 15-19). Europeans established fee-simple rights of property ownership, and a large-scale agricultura...


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...eole in regular conversation. Whereas the minority of haoles kept political and economic power, natives and immigrants made up most of the common people and created a new culture from swapping homeland comforts, such as bits and pieces from their native languages. Tourism has replaced sugar as the single most important industry in Hawaii, so Hawaiians citizens hold tight to their dialect, a piece of modern Hawaiian culture and identity. Glen Grant says in his article, “Even the most articulate speakers of the King’s English will revert to island dialect when letting down their guard with local friends.” (Glen 150) Although Standard English remains the dominant language in business and in education, Creole has continued to transform, from a language of business, to communication of workers, to a social device that expresses the endurance of the mixed native cultures.

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