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  • “Haole” and the Pidgin Language


    Chances are if you’ve ever been to Hawaii, you’ve heard the word “Haole” (how-lee) thrown around by the locals. The term Haole is loosely defined as “Foreigner”, but more often than not is used to refer to Caucasian vacationers. The term can be used as a derogatory remark, or simply describing a person.
    The term can be used as “There was a haole worker at Starbucks that was really friendly” which would translate to “There was a Caucasian worker at Starbucks that was really friendly.”

    The term is simply a noun, so there shouldn’t be any offense taken when used in a friendly form. In some occasions, locals will use the phrase as a derogatory remark such as “typical Haole.” This could translate to “typical tourist”, related to tourist behavior such as pulling over every half mile to take pictures.  The word seems to have branded itself with Caucasian foreigners visiting the island, despite its definition of Foreigner.

    Hawaii is such a big melting pot with so many different cultures, that the majority of the locals of the islands are part “haole.” The word Haole often associates itself with the use of the local language Pidgin. Not to be confused with a pigeon, Pidgin refers to the loose slang the Hawaiians use in day to day dialect.

    Pidgin can be confusing at first, but is a very fun language to learn and speak. “Da water stay cold” would be translated to “The water is cold.” “I tink I going cry wen I found out no more waves at da beach” translates to “I think I’m going to cry when I found out there isn’t any waves at the beach.”
    “Ho ba, you catchin’ on or what?” translates to “Hey bro, are you catching on or what?”
    The language is extremely fun to speak, once you learn the proper terms.

    Hawaiian’s also use the term “da kine”, to refer to something, often times when they can’t think of the name on the spot. For example, “Ho brah, I think braddah Keoki stay at da kine’s house, what he stay doing ova dea?” would translate into “Hey brother, I think brother Keoki is at Kalama’s house, what is he doing over there?” “Da kine” is such a commonly used term in the Hawaiian Islands, that it was branded into a surf company.

    Hawaiian words are commonly thrown into sentences mixed with Pidgin, for example, “Bumbai I show you!” would translate to “Later on I’ll teach you.” Bumbai is translated into “later on.”  Another great example would be the common Hawaiian word “Mahalo.” “Mahalo for stopping by!” would translate into “Thank you for stopping by!”

    Pidgin is extremely fun to learn, but can be quite confusing at first. So eh bra, what you waitin fo? Start learning how fo speak da kine!

    Photo of Mean Da Chicken by Matthew McVickar

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