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 …