Pidgin Pt. 2

Orange hibiscus

A couple days ago I wrote about Pidgin (aka Hawaiian Creole English), a language with English, Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese, etc influences created during Hawaii's plantation era. It's still very widely used today, and for the uninitiated can be a little daunting. So to prevent any confusion, here's a quick guide to some of the most common words you'll hear in the islands.

  • Dakine - Used to refer to literally anything, context is key when trying to decipher exactly what "dakine" someone is talking about. E.g. "You seen dakine?" "Try pass my dakine" "When you going dakine?"
  • 'Ono - "Delicious" in Hawaiian. Often heard in restaurant marketing as part of the portmanteau "onolicious"
  • Ho - used to precede something awesome, amazing, intense, etc.
  • Choke - a lot of something. E.g. "Ho, get choke cars on da road today"
  • Haole - Hawaiian for "no breath." Originally used to describe foreigners to the islands who didn't greet in the traditional manner of touching foreheads and exchanging breath. Now used to refer to white people. 
  • Pau - Hawaiian for "done." E.g. "You pau with that?" (Also: pau hana, "done with work")
  • Auntie/Uncle - A respectful term for someone older than you. Makes for a really confusing time when you're a kid trying to figure out who you're actually related to.
  • Shoots - A general term of affirmation. E.g. "You like go beach?" "Shoots!"
  • Lanai - Porch, patio
  • Mahalo - Hawaiian for "thank you"
  • Junk - no good, rotten. E.g. "Ho, dat movie kinda junk, ah?"
  • Kama'aina - A long-term resident of Hawaii, often used by local businesses in reference to resident discounts (not to be confused with kanaka maoli, Native Hawaiians)