Honey, get elua beers out of the fridge, would you?
April 25, 2006 10:32 PM   Subscribe

It is an official language in this US State, and if somebody writes you a check in it while you're here, you better know your numbers. Although its usage fell after a sharp decrease in the native speakers' population and a later 'ban', (not really) in the late 19th century, it is now making a comeback. Wikipedia gets its name from the language. Sadly, though there are almost 4 million Wikipedia articles, a scant 27 of them are written in it. Of course, if you just need a dictionary, it's not hard to find.
posted by onalark (20 comments total)
Um, there were wikis before Wikipedia. It certainly wasn't the first.
posted by beth at 10:56 PM on April 25, 2006

It certainly wasn't the first.

*edits Wikipedia article on the history of wikis*

It was now.
posted by Ryvar at 11:05 PM on April 25, 2006 [1 favorite]

Guess I'm missing the implication that Wikipedia was the first wiki - I just don't read that into the original post.
posted by RichAromas at 11:06 PM on April 25, 2006

Not only does it not say that in the OP, it explains it quite nicely in the "name" link. I never knew any of this--thanks.
posted by hototogisu at 11:09 PM on April 25, 2006

I'm kind of amazed that in the shuffle this link was overlooked.
posted by rolypolyman at 11:48 PM on April 25, 2006

Well "-pedia" certainly isn't Hawaiian, though. I have a major headache, maybe I'm not thinking clearly.

Please kokua.
posted by beth at 11:57 PM on April 25, 2006

Well, speaking of derails, I've always thought Hawaiian was an interesting beast. There are so few letters that it's almost like Morse Code in its verbosity. Seriously, the word for 23 is "Iwakaluakumamakolu". Ten syllables! With only 13 letters (plus ') representing 18 phonemes, it's one of the "smallest" languages there are.
posted by Plutor at 2:56 AM on April 26, 2006

How do you say "ice" in Hawaiian? Heh.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 3:15 AM on April 26, 2006

GooseOnTheLoose: Don't forget that it snows pretty regularly on Mauna Kea. I'm not familiar with what common usage would be but wehewehe (my last link) says it's: hau.
posted by onalark at 3:21 AM on April 26, 2006

Plutor, I don't think the Hawaiians used exact numbers past ten very often. Since they were mostly an oral language, they didn't have a complex mathematical system. I'd be interested in finding out how much of that was set up by the missionaries when they arrived.
posted by onalark at 3:23 AM on April 26, 2006

We have this theory.

See, long ago, language started -- on a boat. But the boat sank. Everyone jumped into the lifeboats.

Well, it so happens that an odd sort occured. All the vowel people ended up in one boat, and it landed in Hawaii. All the others ended up in another boat, and they landed in Wales.
posted by eriko at 5:29 AM on April 26, 2006

According to the name page, the wikipedia slogan is "the best dick for nasty anal sex", so I wouldn't trust what they say about the source of their name.

I'd edit that, but I'm not sure what the wikipedia slogan actually is. "The free encyclopedia"? "The free encyclopedia anyone can edit"?
posted by jacquilynne at 5:47 AM on April 26, 2006

Heh. The "name" link currently includes the line "Wikipedia's slogan is 'the best dick for nasty anal sex,' regardless of qualifications."

As for the 27 Wikipedia articles allegedly written in Hawaiian, did you actually click on the links? I didn't try them all, but the ones I did were all like this:

He kaumokuʻāina i ʻEulopa ʻo Noloweke.

ʻO kēia moʻolelo he ʻōmuku. If you speak enough Hawaiian, you can help Wikipedia by expanding it.
Except for the slightly longer one on Islam (Hoʻomana Mohameka), which ends: "Translated by a non-Hawaiian speaker; may need correction." Not especially impressive.

But I'm just being picky; the post is worth it for the dictionary alone. Thanks!
posted by languagehat at 5:54 AM on April 26, 2006

onalark writes "Plutor, I don't think the Hawaiians used exact numbers past ten very often. Since they were mostly an oral language, they didn't have a complex mathematical system. I'd be interested in finding out how much of that was set up by the missionaries when they arrived."

It is fascinating to consider that whatever the limits of their mathematical sophistication (I have no idea about that) the Hawaiians, and more generally the Polynesians, were pretty darned good at navigating around enormous areas of the Pacific, in canoes. This boggles my mind.

As for the language, Ethnologue reports about 500 native first-language speakers, perhaps a thousand native second-language speakers, and maybe ten times as many others who've learned the language. However, the other language for those second-language speakers isn't necessarily English. Many of them speak Pidgin (Hawaiian Creole English), a language that deserves its own FPP if it hasn't already had one. I was astonished to learn (also from Ethnologue) that "50% of children in Hawaii do not speak English as first language when entering school. Most of these speak HCE as first language." There are over a hundred thousand native speakers and the language is established and accepted to the point where it's even "used in courts by officers, jurors, plaintiffs, defendants, [and] witnesses."
posted by Songdog at 7:03 AM on April 26, 2006

Songdong, for more information on the navigation in canoes, check out the Hokulea, and Eddie Aikau on Wikipedia.
posted by onalark at 3:27 PM on April 26, 2006

This reminds me of a joke that seemed funny the last time I was in Hawaii...

A man who's had a big night out on the town in Honolulu gets in a taxi and asks the taxi driver to take him to his hotel. The driver asks the man which hotel he is staying at. The drunk sits for a moment and thinks, then says "I can't remember, it is an Outrigger, it's on a street starting with K and there's an ABC store on the corner".

So many Ks in that language.
posted by sycophant at 10:25 PM on April 26, 2006

For anyone interested in hearing the language spoken KTUH, our local college radio station, has a show in Hawaiian. It's called Kipuka Leo w/ Kahikina and it's on Sundays.
posted by dawiz at 3:21 AM on April 27, 2006

I thought we didn't have any official languages anywhere? English isn't official, is it? (why would we have the republicans fighting to make it so if it already was?)
posted by amberglow at 3:35 AM on April 27, 2006

No, the U.S. doesn't have an official language (though the history on this is interesting). Twenty-seven states do, however, have English as their official language, and Hawaii has both English and Hawaiian. Here's a color-coded map (sorry about the very biased sources of a number of these links).
posted by Songdog at 8:22 AM on April 27, 2006

thanks song--i didn't know states were allowed to do that.
posted by amberglow at 2:24 PM on April 27, 2006

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