In The Language Is Life, In The Language is Death
October 2, 2018 8:42 AM   Subscribe

The Birth of Hawai‘i’s Native-Language Newspaper Archive

Hawaiian-language experts are working to preserve a century’s worth of history.
posted by poffin boffin (4 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Then in 1896, three years after the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarch Queen Liliʻuokalani, teaching the Hawaiian language was formally banned in local schools.

As if I don't get enough instant, blinding rage from contemporary news.

(Will take a deep breath, watch the video, and concentrate on the good work being done.)
posted by doubtfulpalace at 12:01 PM on October 2, 2018

The written version of Hawaiian was developed by Protestant missionaries, who were mainly from New England, and they also were responsible for the first newspapers published in the language. Adelbert von Chamisso, a German, published the first Hawaiian grammar in 1837. So are these archives really preserving an aspect of a genuine native Hawaiian culture or one implemented by invaders?
posted by Ideefixe at 8:33 PM on October 2, 2018 [1 favorite]

My understanding is written Hawaiian follows the spoken language closely. It was certainly enthusiastically embraced by Native Hawaiians quite early, as was the missionary religion. Part of what makes Hawaiʻi complicated and interesting is the ways Native Hawaiians took parts of invader culture and used it for their own purposes. At least for awhile, until the native government was undermined and they lost their sovereignty.

I don't have time to research this but IIRC I saw somewhere, probably on Metafilter, a story about how Hawaiian newspapers were an important primary source for historical events of some specific period / location. Maybe 19th century volcanoes? Somewhere where Hawaiʻi had primary access to the event and the newspaper culture was so strong it recorded it the best.
posted by Nelson at 12:51 AM on October 3, 2018

Nelson, you're probably thinking of this post about a hurricane hitting the big island in 1871. English language descriptions of the storm are minimal but weather conditions and storm damage is well documented in Hawaiian-language newspapers.
posted by peeedro at 8:18 AM on October 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

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