Why Hawaiian Pidgin English Is Thriving Today

Continuously Evolving, the Language Gives Its Diverse Speakers a Common History and Shared Values

The origins of the Hawaiian pidgin language reflect the history and diversity of the islands. First used in the mid-19th century by the sugarcane laborers who spoke Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, and English and needed a way to communicate with one another, today, the language is common across the islands of Hawai‘i. Recently, some vocabulary—hammajang, for example—has been entered into the Oxford English Dictionary.

The history, modern-day usage, and future of Hawaiian pidgin was the topic of discussion for a Zócalo/Daniel K. Inouye Institute “Talk Story” event titled “Will Pidgin …

How Moving to England Cured My ‘American Verbal Inferiority Complex’

The Beauty of Rule-Based American English Is That It's More Democratic Than the Brits' Version

I had lived in England for three years when Eats, Shoots and Leaves struck in 2003. English writer Lynne Truss’ “zero tolerance approach to pronunciation” became a British publishing phenomenon—helped …

Chimpanzee Behavior Isn’t Just Monkey Business. It’s Culture.

Grooming, Using Tools, and Fishing for Termites Show the Humanity of Our Primate Cousins

In 1961, famed primatologist Jane Goodall discovered that wild chimpanzees were fashioning tools from sticks and using them to fish termites out of their nests—revolutionizing our understanding of culture and …

The Sanitized Rhetoric That Makes Nuclear War More Likely

To Rid the Planet of Atomic Weapons, We Should Dismantle the Language That Makes Them Possible

The nuclear age began 73 years ago when a brilliant, terrible flash lit up the pre-dawn sky in the New Mexico desert. That first explosion at the Trinity site in …

The Austrian Philosopher Who Showed That Words Can Spark Humanism—or Barbarism

Ludwig Wittgenstein Saw Language as a "Game," and Whoever Makes the Rules Holds the Power

Ludwig Wittgenstein, the Austrian-British philosopher and logician, famously coined the term “language-game”—a term meant, as he writes in his Philosophical Investigations (1953), “to bring into prominence the fact that the …

How Societies Are Defined by the Segmentation of Time

While There's an Astronomical Basis for Years and Days, Most Temporal Units Are the Product of Language and Culture

Why does an hour last 60 minutes? Why does a minute last 60 seconds? What are “minutes” and “seconds,” really? A minute is just the duration you arrive at if …