THE MOTHER TONGUE
We frequently speak to our dear readers about our Mother tongue, not about our teaching them the Hawaiian language, but that the light of our beloved language from our forefathers is being extinguished.
Being that this is a new era, and we see and realize that there is a drastic reduction in the number of our generations capable in our mother tongue. There are many of our youths these days who have no knowledge of our language, but when you listen to them singing, they sing Hawaiian songs. Sometimes when our children speak Hawaiian, their production of the language is so strange, and sometimes our naau [gut, heart] aches at their mispronunciation of words.
There are many Hawaiian songs sung with incorrect pronunciation. Our children are neglecting trying to acquire knowledge and proficiency in speaking the mother tongue. Look at the other ethnicities like the Filipinos and the Japanese, they haven’t forgotten their language. If parents spoke in their own language then the children would hear; and when we talk to them, they’ll ask, “he aha kau e olelo mai nei? [what are you saying?]”
Some people bewail, “If only Hawaiian-Language Schools were reopened, that would be a good thing because we’d get knowledge and proficiency in the Hawaiian language and it would revive our language.”
That is astonishing. Should a young Hawaiian have the desire to acquire knowledge and competency in the Hawaiian language, he should try to get this competency by studying diligently by himself and to get together with an adult for help and there would be great progress. Some say that Hawaiian can be gotten just like that, not like the languages of other people. Perhaps it is true, but if you go back and think with great seriousness, you will see that the Hawaiian language is not easy.
Within the many Hawaiian words, spellings might be the same, but the pronunciation and meanings of those words are different.
One thing that will give every youth proficiency is the reading of Hawaiian newspapers and Hawaiian books like perhaps the bible. Those things will give knowledge and competence in our native language.
We point out that because of the great love of a certain father, Joseph N. [Nihiaumoe] Koomoa, for the Hawaiian language, he thought it would be important to publish some Hawaiian songs and Hawaiian Hula and print some booklets, and through that someone could make time to read the Hawaiian language and perhaps that way the person could pronounce the words while understanding the kaona [underlying meanings].
This man sent those Hawaiian songs and hula to a Newspaper company to be printed in booklets, and it will be sold to the person or persons who want those books. This is a good idea of Joseph Koomoa’s, and we hope that your books that are being printed will become books that give knowledge to the Hawaiian youths of this age and of the future. Aloha to us, O Hawaiians.
Should you want one of those books, they will be available at the shop of that Hawaiian on Waianuenue Avenue, and also the former fire station [?] According to what was announced, the books will probably cost 35 cents each.
We want our youngsters to get a hold of this and and improve themselves to the best of their ability so that they can get proficiency in our mother tongue. Letting these go would be like forgetting our own selves.
“RISE YOUNG HAWAIIANS, GRASP OUR MOTHER TONGUE AND GO FORTH AND LET US BE TRIUMPHANT BY BEING PROFICIENT IN THE HAWAIIAN LANGUAGE.
Forge forward with no fear. So that you can get knowledge and proficiency in your own language—that will be your triumph.
We give our congratulations to you, Mr. Joseph Koomoa, for you attempt to revive the prized language of ours. You will be helping for all times [E kokua mau ia mai nohoi oe i na wa apau. ?]
Help ourselves Hawaiians, and don’t let the benefits go to those others [E kokua iho nohoi ia kaua Hawaii, aole hoi hoolele aku i na pomaikai ia lakou ma. ?]
[Anyone know of any copies of these music booklets by Joseph N. Koomoa still in existence???]
(Hoku o Hawaii, 2/11/1948, p. 2)