I had forgotten about writing this editorial about kids speaking Hawaiian, but stumbled upon it online today (while looking for something else!). It was a long time ago. In fact, I wrote this article during the first year I was freelancing as a writer. The newspaper I wrote it for, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, doesn’t even exist any more, for crying out loud.
But its archive does, and it was fun to read this again. I thought I’d share the article here:
View Point, Saturday, March 13, 1999
Keeping alive the language of Hawaii
By Leslie Lang
THE boy at the airport was about 5, and his chatter was loud and incessant. It could have been irritating, but it wasn’t. It was great because he spoke Hawaiian.
His father tried to quiet him, but I listened happily. The boy talked about na mokulele nui (the big airplanes), and everything else that caught his eye. I have studied Hawaiian for almost as long as he’s been alive, but I don’t know some of the words he knows.
It thrills me to run across Hawaiian parents speaking with their children in the language of their ancestors, communicating effortlessly in the language most of us have to learn in classrooms and from textbooks.
Hawaiian used to be the language of this land; it isn’t anymore. But it’s coming back.
My boyfriend and I are taking an adult school Hawaiian language class twice a week. The class meets in a Hawaiian language immersion classroom at Keaukaha Elementary School in Hilo, where we sit in tiny orange plastic chairs….