Posted by: kauaikolea2 | March 20, 2012

Do you speak Hawaiian Pidgin?

In Hawaii, there were different languages on each island.  At that time,  King Kamehameha III united the islands as one territory with a common language called Hawaiian. Pidgin (or Hawaii Creole) originated as a form of communication used between English speaking residents and non-English speaking immigrants in Hawaii.  It supplanted the pidgin Hawaiian used on the plantations and throughout the islands.  It has been influenced by many languages, including Portuguese, Hawaiian and Cantonese.  As people of other language backgrounds were brought to work on the plantations, such as Japanese, Filipinos, and Koreans, Pidgin acquired words from these languages. These people derived their own language, which was a mixtures of the individual languages, to communicate to each other.  This was passed on to the following generations to become the unique language of Hawaiian Pidgin that it is today, English-based, but consists of seven diverse languages.  Hawaiian Pidgin is not the same as the pidgin spoken in the deep South Pacific islands.

Hawaiian Pidgin is spoken still by many people who live in Hawaii, but mostly by the teenagers.  The majority of the words and phrases are versions of English slang. in the 19th and 20th centuries, Pidgin started to be used outside the plantation between ethnic groups.  Public school children learned Pidgin from their classmates, and eventually it became the primary language of most people in Hawaii, replacing the original languages. This is why linguists consider Hawaiian Pidgin to be a creole language.

The following is A Mother Goose nursery rhyme The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe translated into Hawaiian Pidgin:

Dere waz one ol Tutu

Stay living in one slippa

She get choke kids

Planny braddahs and one sistah

She geev um lau lau

But no mo da poi

Den broke dere okoles

And sent dem moi moi


  1. Tutu- grandmother
  2. Slippa- sandals
  3. Choke- a lot
  4. Planny –plenty
  5. Braddahs- brothers
  6. Sistah- sister
  7. Poi- a Hawaiian food made from taro plant
  8. Okoles- butt
  9. Moi Moi- sleep (

English is the language taught in the schools, but the people of Hawaii today still speak their own Hawaiian Pidgin.  Bookstores in Hawaii sell books that help tourists to understand Pidgin. You can also find lists of vocabulary and phrases that are said in Pidgin and translated into Haole (Caucasians).  Pidgin is a unique creole language that is fun to experience.

I owe you money o’ wot? – Pidgin for “How come you staring at me?”

Inside (een SIDE)  Haole: “Put two potates in the salad.”  Pidgin: “Try put two potatoes eenside da salad.”

No Talk Stink (no talk STEENK) Haole: Don’t say nasty things behind people’s backs

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