English in Hawai’i

“Eh brah, next time wear flip flops”

—Chinn Ho Kelly to Danno, Hawai‘i 5-0 2010

What makes English in Hawaiʻi unique? What historical, social, cultural, political, and linguistic factors influence English in Hawaiʻi? How does the development of Hawaiʻi Creole English (HCE) or “pidgin” mark “Local” identity? How does Local identity expressed through HCE embrace some ethnic groups and exclude others? How does English in Hawaiʻi reflect tensions or solidarity between Native, immigrant, and settler groups who call Hawaiʻi home? These are just a few questions that underpin this course. Throughout the semester, we will examine the historical development and ongoing trajectories of English in Hawai‘i in relation to the factors listed above. We will also examine and discuss its use in literature, poetry, music, arts, as rhetoric, as Local identity, and as a dynamic, living part of our daily lives.

The goal of the course is to better understand the complexity and evolution of English within and beyond these focal points, considering also the tensions and contestations within social, political, educational, ethnic, cultural, public service, and business (economic) contexts of the past, present, and future. We will also closely examine the relationship between ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i (Hawaiian language) as a foundation for HCE and its influences and effects on English, as well as the influences of other languages. In addition, we’ll explore the intersections between spoken and written forms, and the difficulties encountered in reconciling them. Some introductory questions we will consider: How is English “different” in Hawai‘i? How does the multicultural and multilingual landscape in Hawaiʻi influence the development of English? What kinds of conflicts and tensions does this allow? Why is “authentic representation” a challenge to artists in multimedia formats? Where (and how) are inside/outside dynamics of linguistic (and cultural) representation in relation to Hawai‘i English drawn? What kinds of effects do these (mis)understandings and contestations have, and who do they affect?

Assignments: 2 short papers, a longer paper, a group presentation, a midterm and a final exam.

Readings (tentative): Most readings will be posted on Laulima as handouts or weblinks; some likely literary texts include: Lisa Linn Kanae, Islands Linked by Ocean, Lee Tonouchi, Da Word, Lee Cataluna, Three Years on Doreen’s Couch; selections from ʻŌiwi: A Native Hawaiian Journal, Bamboo Ridge, and Hybolics. Readings will be supplemented by guest speakers, film, audio recordings and recorded performances.