Is It Right to Neglect Our Mother Tongue?
To the Editor of the Kuokoa Newspaper; Aloha oe:–I ask of your graciousness in allowing me to clarify my thoughts on the title that appears above; I believe this title will become something that will motivate some of our people to also submit their thoughts [to be published] on that topic, that being: “Is it right to neglect our mother tongue?”
I bring up that question in regard to the Hawaiian language, the mother tongue of this lahui, because I see with these passing days, it is as if it is actually true, that there is no desire or wish within us to perpetuate our language to the very last generation of Hawaiians.
God created the different races on this earth, giving them a very precious gift, that being their mother tongue, and in the history of this world, each lahui cherishes this lofty gift, and treasures it. Placed on one generation to the next, it continues on until the end of the world.
We see the Japanese and the Chinese, the Germans and other lahui living amongst us; they do not at all want to neglect their mother tongue. The children are always taught in their own language in schools that were built, and in churches in which those lahui worship God.
Because of these truths seen with our own eyes, and many other things, my aloha for the Hawaiian language welled up, and prodded my thoughts that I should clarify the state of our mother tongue, in that it definitely should not be neglected by us, all those who have Hawaiian blood flowing in them, because doing this is to scorn God, the one who gave to us this great gift.
Our children these days, English is what comes from their mouths all the time. It is a good thing. It is a great thing that they acquire English and perhaps other languages; but at the same time, they should cherish our mother tongue with feelings of affection. Our children would become people who speak their own language correctly.
We currently do not have Hawaiian schools. The places where our children are being taught Hawaiian language is only at the home. In the presence of their parents they hear the Hawaiian language, without them being able to speak properly. The truth is that they answer in English. thus treating with contempt their parents and grandparents, those who really don’t have chance to hear English.
As I consider the places where our children could pattern their mother tongue after, I recalled that we do not have appropriate schools for them, and that it is only in Hawaiian churches, in prayer gatherings and rallies, that these are the only places where we can give the future generations experience sitting and listening and practicing their mother tongue.
I see that in some congregations in some of our churches, they are giving their sermons in English. With this idea, the language used to speak of the word of God, is absorbed by the children, because that is the language they are versed in. I truly believe that this is not something that should be done. This is done without aloha by we Hawaiians, allowing the sermon for our children to be customarily done in English. Whereas if they hear the Hawaiian language, they would be able to speak it. Maybe for the benefit of the Japanese, Chinese, and perhaps children of other lahui, it is wanted for them to understand what is being spoken of there. Therefore there are many churches that the children are allowed to go to churches that speak of the word of God in their mother tongue.
The responsibility has fallen upon us, O Hawaiians, to cherish our mother tongue by putting effort into making the Hawaiian language the language spoken at the pulpit of Hawaiian churches. And our children will also realize that their native language is very important.
Generally speaking I am strongly against neglecting our mother tongue, and I am against regularly giving the sermon from the pulpit in English in Hawaiian churches, for there are many places set aside to listen to English, but Hawaiian churches were built for all Hawaiians to worship at, and to listen to the things being discussed pertaining to life, in the Hawaiian language.
These are my own thoughts about this and I believe that a large portion of Hawaiians who love our mother tongue will agree with me in this.
(Kuokoa, 10/18/1918, p. 3)