Things were looking grim for Hawaiian language, 1906.

Do Not Forsake Your Mother Tongue

The native language of a people, like the Hawaiian Language for the Hawaiian lahui, is called the mother tongue of the Hawaiians. From what we know, how many Hawaiian youths educated in our High Schools and outside as well are truly well-supplied in knowledge and are skilled in the mother tongue of their land of birth?

We see these days that are going by, the children are grasping English, while they really have no desire to seek out the native tongue of their land of birth. It is very clear that because the Hawaiian language government schools have been put to an end, the large water sources [poo wai] that fed into all the water ditches [auwai] of knowledge in that language for the youth of Hawaii nei have closed up. 

While we encourage the desire to move forward for those who know English, in that it is necessary for Hawaiian youths to become used to British, that is the English language, so that the children have a running start in the progress that is quickly moving across the face of the earth, because of the movement of English; however, it is not a bad thing for the youth born in Hawaii, and more so for actual Hawaiians, to understand this language of their kupuna.

Knowledgeable haole from foreign lands are arriving in our neighborhoods, and when they ask an actual Hawaiian youth about an old word seen by them in a book or an old Hawaiian newspaper, the youth responds, “I don’t know,” that is, “Aole au i ike.” They don’t know because their knowledge and readiness in their own language is truly incompetent.

There will come a time when a majority of the Hawaiian words that are familiar to us today will become unclear words to the Hawaiian youths of the future. In our estimation, from among ten Hawaiian children going to the “haole” schools of these days, perhaps there will not be five that can write Hawaiian correctly.

The only places where the Hawaiian language is available to these youths are the Hawaiian Sunday Schools, the church, where they given speeches in Hawaiian and where those who congregate are true Hawaiians, and Hawaiian books and newspapers. Associating and speaking with Hawaiians in Hawaiian to seek out knowledge in Hawaiian language is how to gain that knowledge.

[This editorial was important enough for it to be reprinted in the Kuokoa Home Rula one year later on 3/22/1907!

Let’s not get complacent, even in times like these! I mua a loaa ka lei o ka lanakila!]

(Na’i Aupuni, 1/4/1906, p. 2)

Ka Na’i Aupuni, Buke I, Helu 33, Aoao 2. Ianuari 4, 1906.

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