Picture of Kaiaulu Hazel
Re: Hawaiian is a dead language
by Kaiaulu Hazel - Friday, July 25, 2008, 12:22 PM
Aloha k?kou,

Wow, somehow I missed this whole thread previously, but very interesting to read the articles and everyone's mana'o about this topic.

Clearly, Hawai'ian is far from a "dead" language, it is very much alive and well.  Offering (or requiring) Hawai'ian language study in all Hawai'i high schools would be an excellent way to help ensure that it continues to thrive.  Personally, I think it should be offered in some mainland schools as well, especially in areas like the Bay Area here where there are lots of Hawai'ian people living.

I also believe that language and cultural diversity can be compared to bio-diversity on our planet - both are in danger, and need the active intervention of human beings to undo the damage we have done. Just as humans have damaged the natural environment to the point where the diversity that we need to thrive as a planet is threatened; just so humans have damaged cultural diversity (which includes language diversity), which we also need to thrive as human beings, or we are in danger of becoming one big giant mono-culture someday.  Boring.  In the same way that folks in Hawai'i go out plant taro to revitalize this crop, just so we need to acitvely plant the seeds of the Hawai'ian language and culture.

I was recently in Hawai'i and had a few opportunities to speak Hawai'ian while there - which was thrilling for me - but would have loved to have these opportunities on a daily and moment-by-moment basis.

I have to agree with M?lia that it would be wonderful to somehow have more immersion opportunities as part of this class.  Although I so much appreciate the opportunity to take this class and learn Hawai'ian, and I have learned a lot, I feel that my ability to converse lags far behind my ability to read and write grammatically correct sentences.  I wished that I felt more confident about my ability to actually carry on a conversation in '?lelo Hawai'i.  Even my few brief interactions while I was in Hawai'i did help my confidence a lot, so I think that more wala'au opportunities in the class would be immensely helpful.  Both grammatical correctness and conversational fluency are important in learning a language, I wouldn't necessarily value one over the other.

I do recognize that it is a real challenge to deliver these kinds of opportunities in an internet-based class, and wish I had some more constructive ideas to offer.  But for those who are creating the structure of the classes, any opportunities to converse more - especially for those of us not in Hawai'i - would be extremely helpful and welcomed.

E ola mau ka '?lelo Hawai'i!
Mahalo nui,
na Kaiaulu