TARO-ROOT LANGUAGE.

Sarah Roberts, a sociolinguist studying Hawai’i Creole English, has begun a language blog, Namu Pa’i ‘Ai, which

will chiefly concern itself with the linguistic situation in Hawai’i (as it is my area of expertise), but it will also cover news and research concerning other pidgin/creole varieties around the world… I will be writing mostly for a linguist and language specialist audience but I hope this blog will interest non-specialists as well — especially Pidgin speakers and those who take an active interest in the language.

She’s posted on Polari (see here for description and Bible translation) and girls being punished for speaking pidgin, among other things. A promising start!


If you’re wondering about the name of the blog:

Although “Pidgin” is the usual English name for the language, in Hawaiian it is also known as ‘ōlelo pa’i ‘ai, which literally translates as “hard taro-root language”. This term was originally used in the 19th century to refer to Pidgin Hawaiian (a Polynesian-based pidgin spoken especially on the plantations), Hawai’i Pidgin English (the direct ancestor of HCE), and a mixture of the two languages. Namu pa’i ‘ai is a variant of this name and was first attested in a newspaper article in 1887. Namu is Hawaiian for “gibberish”, from which the Pidgin Hawaiian word naminami “to talk, converse” was derived. The “hard-taro” metaphor latent in the name is especially obscure and is open to various unsatisfactory interpretations, which nicely evokes the state of affairs in pidgin and creole studies regarding the obscure origins of contact languages and the often unsatisfactory attempts to understand them.

(Via Semantic Compositions.)

Comments

  1. Um, your link to Namu Pa’i ‘Ai seems to be self-referential.

  2. Aargh! Reminder to self: always check links on preview.
    Fixed, and many thanks for letting me know.

  3. Tanks foa da kine link, brah!

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