How You Know People
Are from Hawai‘i

based on the book
You Know You’re in Hawai‘i When …
by Don Chapman
illustrated by Roy Chang

translated for mainland haoles
or anyone not yet fully schooled in the
intricacies of local pidgin or culture

(also, just good fun for locals)
See #82 Hanabata Days for a list of good fun old-time memories

  1. They have separate circuit breakers for their rice cookers.
  2. Only NOW they know that cilantro is the same as Chinese parsley. [Also, that they’ve been eating chorizo (Portuguese sausage, see number 60) all this time.]
  3. They measure the water for the rice by the knuckle of their index finger [water level should be exactly one index-finger knuckle above the top of the rice, no matter how little or how much rice you’re cooking and no matter what size the pot or the size of your hand — quite amazing really!].
  4. They know which market sells poi on which days. [In recent years there have been severe poi shortages, so it’s also important to know what time the poi is delivered so you can get some before they sell out; the last bag of poi is worth fighting over.]
  5. They know Char Hung Sut [an old-time Chinese take-out famous for its dim sum, such as manapua (Hawaiian for pig’s {pua‘a} ear {because if criss-cross incisions are made on top of the bun before it’s steamed, the breading puffs up into peaks that look like pig’s ears, not because it’s made from it}; it’s only known as char siu bow {pronounced “bao,” as in the front of a boat; means “bun”} on the mainland so never ask for manapua up there)] is closed on Tuesday.
        [There was a big scandal when locals discovered that Char Hung Sut started using corned beef instead of real char siu (Chinese-style marinated barbequed pork), which proves, when it comes to anything to do with food, you can fool some locals some of the time — and, even then, not for very long — but you can’t fool all of them all the time. You may notice that many if not most of the items on this list have to do with food.]
  6. They can handle shoyu [soy sauce] with green mango [the unripened “common (variety of) mango” tastes onolicious (very delicious, see no. 49) with shoyu or salt and you’re slightly less likely to get a severe stomach ache from it than from any of the other varieties; paradoxically the “common mango” has become rare and the most common variety is now the Hayden], li hing [a very popular flavor in Hawaii — a salty-sweet-plum flavor used originally on a particular kind (li hing mui) of Chinese dried preserved plums eaten like a very salty rather than sweet candy but now used on just about everything that some local has tried it on and who then managed to convince enough friends that this was not just another of their usual accidents or practical jokes but actually a creative inspiration] gummy bears, and raw egg on hot rice [or in chicken hekka (sukiyaki)].
  7. Their refrigerators contain half-empty jars of mango chutney from the ’95 Punahou [a nationally known highly respected college-prep high school] Carnival [fund-raiser, you know, so they had to buy more than they’d ever use.]
        [A long-standing Hawaii rule is that you never ever throw anything out until it spoils and mango chutney keeps a re-e-e-eally lo-o-o-ong time so they fill up space in the back of the refrigerator (called an “ice box” in Hawaii) until then — their condition is checked on an annual basis, usually at the next Punahou Carnival.]
  8. The condiments at the table are shoyu [soy sauce (Aloha Shoyu or Kikkoman, although the brand of the contents in the bottle more than likely does not match the brand advertised on the label)], ketchup [oddly enough, ketchup originated in China and is the anglicized pronunciation of the Chinese name ke-tsiap, a pickled fish sauce; English sailors brought it back to the western world in the 17th century; the tomato-sauce modification was added much later], chili peppeh watah [chili pepper water, Hawaii’s Tabasco], and kim chee [Korean hot pickles]. Also, Hawaiian salt [coarse sea salt].
  9. They go to Maui and their luggage home includes potato chips [Maui is famous for their “Maui plantation-style” chips … and Maui onions], manju [soft sweet rice cakes], cream puffs, and guri guri [Japanese-style soft-serve ice cream (see Dad Visits Me in Japan, p. 3), Japanese pronunciation of “goody goody”] for omiyage [oh-mee-ya-gay: travel gifts or souvenirs].
  10. They think the four food groups are starch, Spam [Hawaii is the largest consumer of Spam in the country, and probably the world, from wartime days — I wonder why somebody hasn’t yet thought of li hing Spam], fried food, and fruit punch.
  11. A balanced meal has three starches: rice, macaroni, and bread [but always white sandwich “Wonder” bread].
  12. They know 101 ways to fix their rubber slippers [pronounced “slippahs,” also called zori … known as flip-flops on the mainland], 50 using tape, 50 with glue, and one using a stick to poke the strap back in. [Of course, fixing your favorite broken slippahs is much preferred to buying a brand new pair on sale for $2 due to the unacceptable break-in time that this would involve.]
  13. They sometimes use their open car doors for dressing rooms [attitude is “nevah mine” (never mind), “nobody go look” (probably no one will be able to see anything) … and, anyway, it’s way too much trouble to find, and probably too far to walk to, the nearest public restroom].
  14. They wear two different color slippers together and they don’t mind.
        [Kalakoa means colors that don’t match or appear mixed up haphazardly so if you saw someone wearing two different color slippers you would say they were kalakoa.
        Mom and Dad heard a mainland TV announcer (while giving an on-location tour of Iolani Palace, the only royal palace in the U.S.) refer to the last Hawaiian king as David Kalakoa (instead of Kalakaua); oh well, I supposed he was a very colorful character — he brought the hula back into acceptance, became known as the “Merry Monarch,” was the first monarch from any country to travel around the world, became ill and died in the Palace Hotel in San Francisco in 1891 at the age of 54.]
  15. “Nice clothes” means a T-shirt without puka [holes].
  16. They are barefoot in most of their elementary school pictures.

    barefoot elementary school picture
    Dad, front row, 6th from left, dressed “formal” in his picture from Aina Haina.
  17. They have a slipper tan [telltale silhouette stripes on top of their feet because the skin has been protected from tanning by the slipper straps, so it looks like they’re still wearing slippers even after they take them off].
  18. Their only suits are bathing suits.
  19. They drive barefoot [… even on the mainland — my Dad drives all around the west (from N. Dakota down to Texas and everywhere on the mainland west of that — about half the country) on his annual photo trips barefoot, even when it’s snowing outside … if it’s not snowing, he puts on his slippahs rather than going through the trouble of putting on his socks and shoes when he steps outside to fill gas — or take a picture].
        [Dad shocked everyone when he hiked barefoot on the muddy Aiea Heights Trail when we went with Wayson, Charlene and Melissa (see Friends > Family Friends). He had the last laugh in the end because he had no trouble with slipping, getting his footwear covered with a thick layer of mud, or having the sole of his shoe become so unglued that the shoes had to be thrown away (as happened to poor Wayson).]
  20. They have at least five Hawaiian bracelets [“heirloom” Hawaiian bracelets have engraved-gold and black–enamel Hawaiian designs and your (or your grandchildren’s) name in Hawaiian; they have to practice to learn to walk around without tipping over under the weight.]
  21. They never, ever, under any circumstances, wear socks [especially white athletic socks or over-the-calf black dress socks with the little designs on the outside] with slippers or aloha shirts that match their wives’ muumuus.
  22. They still call the Blaisdell [the late former Honolulu mayor Neil Blaisdell and friend of Grandpa’s] Center [arena] the HIC [Honolulu International Center], and it’s Sandy’s, not Sandy Beach.
  23. They say “I going fo’ lawnmowah da grass,” when they mean “I’m going to mow the lawn.”
  24. They can understand every word Bu Lai‘a [a local comedian and perennial gubernatorial candidate; his name is the Hawaiian pronunciation of “bull liar”] says. [See Frank DeLima article for picture of Bu Lai‘a.]
  25. {They have at least one friend (but more likely two or tree [three]) who looks like Bu Lai‘a.}
  26. They have a sister, cousin, auntie, or mom named “Honey girl.”
  27. Someone in the family is named “Boy,” “Tita,” “Bruddah,” “Sonny,” “Bachan,” “Taitai,” “Popo,” or “Vovo.” [Or, “Junior” (pronounced Joon-ya)].
  28. They still chant “Ahanakokolele” [“Ahanakokolele / You steal (stole) my ukulele” is chanted with a taunting tune that every local knows; the word itself doesn’t literally mean anything, I’m told, but it’s universally understood to mean “shame on you”] when a friend or co-worker goofs up. [Compare to no. 93.]
  29. They say, “shtraight,” “shtreet,” and “shtress.”
  30. They say “da kine” [“the kind” (of thing I’m talking about), roughly equivalent to “yadah yadah,” or whatever you happen to be discussing and whose proper name is far too much trouble to remember at the moment] and the other person says “da kine,” and they both know what “da kine” is.
  31. The “shaka” [the “shaka” sign is given by extending and oscillating your hand with your thumb and pinkie out and other fingers curled in; roughly equivalent to a “right on” greeting in the ’60s or “Howzit” but has the advantage of being visual rather than verbal, i.e., understandable over a much longer distance] and the “stink eye” [accusing glare — if you’re a kid, one from your mom means, “you’re dead when I get you home”] are worth 1,000 words.
  32. They’re shopping at Epcot Center at Disney World, and they may say something to their sister [seestah], and a complete stranger says, “You’re from Hawaii, aren’t you?” [because their heavy pidgin accent makes them stand out immediately, especially if they’ve just asked a question: see number 65 below].
  33. They feel guilty leaving a get-together without helping clean up. [They feel even more guilty if they wen show up wit nomo nutting (arrived empty-handed).]
  34. The idea of taking something from a heiau [ancient Hawaiian temple or religious enclosure] is unthinkable.
  35. They call everyone older than themselves “Aunty” or “Uncle” and they kiss everyone in greeting and farewell.
        {They’re officially old the first time they get called aunty or uncle.}
        [They’re a really old buggah if everyone calls them aunty or uncle and they don’t know anybody they can call that.]
        [This can become confusing as they grow up and try to figure out who are actually their father’s and mother’s siblings, with husbands and wives.]
  36. They let other cars ahead of them on the freeway and they give shaka to everyone who lets them in. (And get mad if someone they let in doesn’t say thanks.)
  37. Their philosophy on time is “bumbai” [by-and-by].
  38. They would rather drag out the compressor and fill that leaking tire every single morning than have to fix it.
        [If they don’t already own one and don’t know a friend or relative they could bum one off of who doesn’t also have a flat tire, the only logical thing to do is drive right down to Sears to buy a deluxe $660 compressor with air tank and big easy-rolling pneumatic wheels (since they will be rolling it out every day) for just that very purpose rather than going through the trouble of driving “all the way down” to Lex Brodie’s to get the tire fixed (even though Lex Brodie’s may actually be closer than Sears).]
        [Local Theory of Special(s) Relativity: When driving to get something repaired, the actual distance appears to a local observer to be multiplied by a factor of exactly two; when driving to buy something new, the distance appears to be cut in half; if it’s on sale, the distance appears cut in fourth.]
        [One model of $660 tire pump (air hose and tire-valve adapter extra) is shown above for handy reference (in case you currently have a flat tire).]
  39. The only time they honk their horns is once a year during the safety check.
  40. If a child needs a home, they give him one. He or she becomes “Hanai” [adopted].
  41. They can live and let live with a smile in their heart.
  42. Their male best friends’ names are Wade, Max, Nathan [pronounced Nay-ten, as in “Eh (pronounced like the letter A), Nayten, howzit?”], Darren, or Melvin.
        [In the real old days, everyone was known only by their nickname, such as Froggy (someone with a hoarse voice, like the Little Rascals (Our Gang Comedies) character), Mits (if their first, middle or last name began with “Mits…”), Tak (for the same reason), Slick (used too much tonic or Vaseline in their hair), Slim (Grandpa’s brother Uncle Sueo), Porky (Grandpa’s friend), Zute (Grandpa’s friend Shizuto Kadota), Longy (Dad’s tall and lanky high school classmate) or Bolo (baldheaded) and often you never knew the person’s real name.]
  43. Own two types of slippers: da “good slippas” [for going out on more formal occasions or on a first date] and da “buss-up [busted-up, worn] / stay home [or fort (fourth) date] slippas.”
  44. They do not understand the concept of north [except “wen get powah surf” (when the surf is high) at the North Shore], south, east, and west, but instead give directions as mauka [toward the mountain, north if you’re downtown], makai [toward the ocean, south if you’re downtown], Diamond Head [meaning east of downtown, unless you happen to be already east of Diamond Head, in which case you should more properly use Hawaii Kai or Koko Head, which are farther east … although people usually don’t bother with that small detail and mean east even though Diamond Head might at the moment actually be west from where they are — because it’s all relative to the location of the place they’re discussing rather than where they’re currently standing], and Ewa [meaning toward the west, unless again you happen to already be west of Ewa (pronounced eh-vah), in which case you should pick someplace even more west (actually, northwest), like Wahiawa or Hale‘iwa], and use landmarks instead of street names.
        [This actually makes better sense than you’d think because there are situations on the mainland, such as on the Eastshore freeway (Interstate 80) past Emeryville and Berkeley where the signs say “I-80 East” but, in that particular stretch, you’re actually going due north, although after another hour of driving you’ll finally be heading east as advertised.]
        [Not only do they use landmarks rather than street names but they instruct you to make your maneuver at what they would lead you to believe is some critically precise point before you even reach the landmark.
        Furthermore, you’ll soon discover that the landmarks used are historical ones that haven’t existed there for decades, depending on how long ago it was that the person giving the instructions was a teenager in high school, first got their driver’s license and learned to get around town using those commonly recognized landmarks of that bygone era.
        Therefore, if you are lucky enough to actually reach the landmark in question, you’ve already gone too far, and, when you get there, the landmark you’ve been intently looking for won’t be there because it was torn down and replaced by something completely different long ago.
        My Dad ran into a similar cultural phenomenon in South Dakota in 1999. Mark, a friend of his, was showing him around some of the backroad ranch country and described parcels of land as, for example, “the old Percy place,” even though a fellow named Dartt (a drinking buddy of Mark’s, in fact) was the current owner. Upon further investigation Dad found out that the Percys hadn’t lived there for quite some time but the ranch wouldn’t become “the old Dartt place” until poor old Dartt passed on and someone with a different name became the current owner.]
        [The directions get turned completely around if you’re on the windward side of the Island (O‘ahu) because then mauka would be south and not north, and makai is north and not south — but, after all, it’s only important to know if you’re headed to work (mauka over the Pali {“The Cliff,” one of the major routes over the mountain range separating the windward and leeward sides} to town) or to the beach (makai). Diamond Head and Ewa are both south (and mauka) so using them isn’t too useful on the windward side.]
        “Go ewa ’til you get to da kine, then makai, and bumbai you go stay dere” is considered giving explicit directions. [See nos. 30, 37 and 63.]
  45. The first thing they look for in the Sunday paper is the Long’s ad.
  46. They take off their slippahs or shoes before going into the house.
        [If they go to the mainland in the winter they soon discover why it’s not done there: when it’s time to leave, they find their shoes frozen].
        [When leaving a big party they can easily pick out their slippahs from the hundreds of identical ones piled up on the porch.]
  47. They ask what year and where you went grad [graduated from high school; when or where you graduated from college is of absolutely no interest], and then they say “eh, you know my cousin?” [Click the link to learn about Grandpa’s induction into McKinley High School’s Hall of Honor in 1990.
        [This may seem funny just on the face of it but what’s really funny is that you probably do know their cousin — or might even be their cousin. (By the way, if you don’t know all your cousins, it might be a good idea to do a little research into your family tree before getting married.)]
        [It was during just such a conversation that we discovered that Jacie and Raimi are cousins.]
        [Hung Chee Tom and Sonny (see links in the 3rd paragraph of this link) discovered that they were cousins during such a conversation at a party in New York.]
        [William and Robert Kong’s sister is married to Grandma’s cousin Frank Lum, so Dad found out that he was related to his classmates. To explore the exact relationship, go to Au > family history by Aunty Anna > outline > 3rd son and 4th daughter.]
        [In Hawai‘i, “cousins” include any “family” relationship, no matter how distant, between persons of roughly the same age, not only official first cousins but including those through marriage (or several different marriages within the family tree), adoption, between different generations … and even including divorce!]
        [In the photo below, Dad is wearing a Cane Haul Road T-shirt titled “Hawaii Geneology,” which has a picture of a school notebook on it with the questions, “What school you went? You know my cousin?”]

A few more from the book:

  1. “Brah” [short for bruddah (brother)] is not a female undergarment but a friendly term.
  2. They compliment good food by saying:
    1. “onolicious” (ono = Hawaiian word for delicious)
    2. “Da buggah was ono!” [Or, ono ono, meaning very delicious. Hawaiian doesn’t have modifiers or separate words to indicate subtle shades of meaning such as between good, better and best. To indicate more emphasis you simply repeat the word.]
    3. “Oh, brah [cf. above], broke da mout’!” [This demonstrates the extreme efficiency of pidgin in being able to describe very complex emotions using only a few words (plus the required appropriate inflections and body-language). It translates roughly to (but means much more than): “I can tell, being a fellow local, you appreciate good food as much as I do, but this was so good I couldn’t stop eating until it was completely gone and my whole mouth felt so extremely overworked from the continuous prolonged chewing and the intense enjoyment of the great complexity of tastes overwhelming my taste buds that I was afraid that I had broken it (i.e., my mouth)!”]
  3. They watch UH Wahine [University of Hawaii Women’s] volleyball [they’re one of the nation’s top teams] “on top the TV” [on television].
  4. The TV weather wahine [woman] predicts mauka [see no. 44] showers.
  5. They offer a toast by shouting, “Okole maluna!” [Hawaiian for “bottom’s up”; see no. 71] or the Japanese “Ban-zai! [Hurrah!] Ban-zai! Ban-zai!”
  6. They consider the ukulele a classical instrument.
  7. It rains buckets on their reunion [or wedding, funeral, etc.] and everyone agrees it’s “such a blessing.”
  8. When the temperature drops into the 70s, they get out the heavy quilts.
  9. Graduates risk suffocation — or neck injury, whichever comes first — by flower lei. [See Naomi in this condition at her graduation by going to Naomi > page 3.]
  10. A dinner of poke [pronounced po-keh, a Hawaiian dish of seafood (cubed raw tuna, tako {cooked octopus}, or some other main ingredient), limu (seaweed), seasoned with Hawaiian salt and/or other flavorings (e.g., hot peppers, wasabi {Japanese horseradish} and shoyu … has anyone thought of li hing?)], soba [Japanese buckwheat noodles], adobo [uniquely flavored Spanish (but in Hawaii more likely Filipino) dish of chicken or pork, beef, lamb, seafood, fowl, or some other “meat” you may not want to know precisely], char siu [Chinese-style marinated roast pork] and kalbi [Korean barbequed short ribs] isn’t considered “international cuisine.”
  11. They gladly risk their lives for a little limu [seaweed] or opihi [limpet].
  12. A trip of any length requires a larger-than-usual cache of crackseed [also called see-mui or see-moi, generic terms for the whole category of Chinese preserved plums and related munchies] and arare [pronounced ah-rah-reh (although the R is pronounced as a cross between R, L and D — see “Dad visits me in Japan” for more observations on Japanese language and katakana {phonetic alphabet reserved for foreign words} in particular), Japanese rice crackers, also called kakemochi in Hawaii, sometimes known as “mochi crunch” or “assorted rice cracker snacks” on the mainland].
  13. Portuguese sausage [chorizo] is part of a balanced breakfast. [It’s readily available (on the main menu) at local Macdonald’s (and, of course, Zippy’s {pronounced Zeepeez, a popular local restaurant chain; Grandpa likes to go to the Kahala branch below because of their covered parking}) with fried eggs over rice.]


I can add a few more of my own:

  1. No matter where they are on the island, they always know where to get the best shave ice [vaguely similar to a “snow cone” on the mainland except that the ice is shaved, not chopped, so finely that it melts softly in your mouth and is available with a large variety of flavored syrups, including unusual ones such as guava, lilikoi (passion fruit), lychee and the ubiquitous li hing mui (see no. 6), and a variety of toppings, such as snow cap (condensed milk), or base layers, such as azuki beans, mochi balls or ice cream].
        [See Jung’s Shave Ice by going to Friends > Family Friends.]
        When they visit another island, they first find out where to get the best shave ice before they leave home.
  2. Everyone (including small keiki [kids] just out of diapers) understands “go shi-shi” [Japanese (and Korean) for “urinate”].
        Also called 5-4-4 (pronounced fi-fo-fo) by those who know how to count in Japanese [1-2-3-4-5 = ichi-ni-san-shi-go].
        [Even doctors will tell their patients to “go shi-shi in the cup” to request a urine sample.]
  3. The concepts of “stay going” [preparing to go or in the process of going somewhere] and “go staying” [either not planning on going anywhere, or, alternatively, the act of arriving or finding yourself situated somewhere physically or in a particular emotional state] are perfectly clear [see last paragraph of no. 44].
        [The more advanced forms, such as (but not limited to) go stay going, go stay coming, stay go staying and stay go going staying are best left to the experts.
        Example of a local sentence: “Eh, go; I go stay come” (= “Why don’t you just go on ahead and I’ll follow you very soon”).]
  4. If it’s not necessary to explain the intricacies of multiple people traveling to, from or remaining in multiple places, it’s much preferred to use the single local word “gongo.”
        [With the proper inflection and body-language, the question, “Eh, you gongo town?” (gongo = going to go) is fully equivalent to the much-less-efficient standard-English, “Are you, by any chance, planning on being anywhere even remotely close to the general vicinity of downtown Honolulu (the business district; i.e., will you be on the leeward half of the island sometime during normal daylight hours?), and, if so, where would you like to meet for lunch?”]
  5. At the end of any question [as above in, “Eh, you gongo town?”], their inflection goes down [everywhere else in the English-speaking world, the inflection goes up].
  6. Their whole day is planned around where they’re going to eat lunch and dinner, and with whom [cf. number 64].
  7. If they go anywhere near Kahuku, they have to bring back fresh sweet corn.
  8. They know where to go to get fresh laulau [a Hawaiian “burrito” of beef, pork and fish wrapped in taro leaves and steamed in ti-leaves] and kalua pig [see Dad’s authentic kalua pig recipe].
  9. Rice is the uncontested staple starch (see nos. 1 and 3) and the household supply is considered dangerously low when it’s allowed to drop below 10 pounds. [This will automatically trigger the purchase of another 50-pound (if you live alone) or 100-pound bag.]
        Potatoes are only available as Maui chips, French fries, or in macaroni-potato salad (macaroni salad or “pasta salad,” as it’s referred to on the mainland, always includes potatoes), unless you’re trying to impress your date at a fancy restaurant.
  10. When parking their car they search for — in this order — the space:
    1. for handicapped persons (if there’s someone along who qualifies, or can act like they qualify)
    2. with the most shade
    3. that’s the cheapest
    4. that minimizes walking (either to the exit [especially if they plan on eating a large meal in a restaurant] or to the entrance, if there’s any difference)
    5. where they can get out the quickest (if it’s a parking lot at an event and people will be leaving all at once)
    6. where they can park the longest (no matter how little time they plan on being there)
    7. that’s the widest so somebody won’t nick their paint
    8. on the correct side of the street so when leaving they won’t have to cross too many lanes of traffic or make a left turn into on-coming traffic — ever.
    If the space has all the above attributes, dey bettah grabbum [they had better take it], whether or not they have any real business to attend to in the immediate area [same as in San Francisco or New York City].
  11. When they have to park in the sun they cover their steering wheel and driver’s seat with a towel so they won’t burn their hands or okole [bottom, rear end] when they get back in.
        [Technically it should be lemu (buttocks), since ‘okole refers to a specific “more central” part of a person’s bottom, but its meaning has become commonly accepted as “bottom.” See no. 52.]
  12. Jun-ken-po [known as paper-scissors-stone on the mainland] is the preferred method of arbitrary decision-making between two parties, since it doesn’t require having to locate a coin and everyone agrees that it’s the most fair. (Dad and his classmates played it during their reunion in Vegas.)
        [Regional variants exist, for example:
    Junken a munken,
    a sucka sucka po,
    Wailuku, Wailuku,
    big fat toe.]
  13. Their salt shakers contain grains of uncooked rice [to keep the salt from caking due to the high humidity].
  14. “Low-fat milk” sounds Chinese when they hear it at first.
  15. They don’t become dumbfounded and tonguetied when pronouncing a name with what appears to mainland folks to be too few consonants and way more vowels clumped together than necessary, such as Kaaawa [Ka‘a‘awa, pronounced Ka-ah-ah-vah] or Kalanianaole, although Moiliili [Mo‘ili‘ili, pronounced Mo-ili-ili] is often mispronounced Moi-li-li.
        [Oddly enough, visitors who speak Japanese or Spanish have less trouble with pronunciation because the vowels are always pronounced the same way and, once they get used to the idea that each vowel is pronounced separately, they can do quite well. The one difficulty is that Japanese doesn’t have an L. See Dad Visits Me in Japan for a discussion about Japanese pronunciation.]
        [Pronunciation of Hawaiian is simpler than Japanese or Spanish because it has the shortest alphabet in the world, only 12 letters: a, e, i, o, u, h, k, l, m, n, p, w (sometimes pronounced as a v).]
  16. “Making pupu for watching UH Wahines on top the TV” (see no. 50) sounds appetizing and displays good planning rather than sounding gross and disgusting, as it does to someone from the mainland. [Pupu = appetizer.]
        [Kukae is the local word corresponding to what mainlanders think of when they hear the word pupu; in Hawai‘i, pupu and kukae are associated with opposite ends of the digestive system.]
        [Also, dey open da light (turn on the light) for make the pupu and close da light (turn it off) for watch TV.]
  17. They’re always on “Daylight Savings Time”: they begin their jogging at 4:30 in the morning so it won’t get too hot.
        [Hawaii doesn’t go on Daylight Savings Time because they’re at the same latitude (15°) as Mexico City (much farther south than most people on the mainland realize), so there’s not much difference between summer and winter.]
        [Arizona also doesn’t go on Daylight Savings Time but the Navajo Reservation, located there, does, leading to some confusion if you’re traveling back and forth over some invisible border (e.g., in and out of Canyon de Chelly National Monument). Fortunately Hawaii doesn’t have this confusion so the local concept of time remains extremely consistent throughout the year (see no. 37).]
        [The only significant seasons are the rainy season (wintertime, when you don’t have to watah plants every day) and mango season (beginning of summer, around Grandpa’s birthday on the Fort of Joo-lai).
        Everyone with a mango tree in their yard has a mango picker, consisting of a long bamboo pole (or two poles lashed together), a wire loop made from a clothes hanger (with a narrower rounded-V shape at the far end so that it will hook the mango stem and not let the fruit slip back out), and a cloth bag to catch the fruit.]
  18. After an onolicious meal, the men adjourn to the nearest bench with toothpicks in their teeth and their T-shirts pulled up above their opu [stomachs] to give them air.
  19. They get late-night cravings for saimin [Hawaii-style Japanese noodle soup, ramen].
  20. They keep track of all the fundraisers around town so they can plan their supply of ono ono huli huli chicken [huli = turn around, huli huli = keep turning around = rotate = turned manually or using a rotisserie over a barbeque, see no. 49].
  21. Everyone agrees that hapa [half or part, meaning mixed-ancestry] kids [like me, Naomi] are the best looking. [See Poi Dog store in Kobe, Japan.]
  22. Everybody avoids a kid with hanabata [hana = Japanese for flower (flower of your face = nose), bata = butter; therefore, nose butter = … you figure it out] and everybody knows what it’s like to go through the “hanabata days” when they were kids.
        [Here’s a good fun list of memories from the ole days by Clinton Lee that’s posted on the website, reformatted with links to related parts of our website and with additional explanations or comments.]
  23. If somebody calls them lolo [Hawaiian for stupid], baka [Japanese for stupid] or bakatare [local Japanese for fool or idiot (the R is prounounced more like a D here … but not quite, see no. 9 and a discussion of pronunciation)], babooze [Portuguese for dummy], mento [a mental case], or puka head [hole in your head], they get really huhu [angry] and habuts [upset] — unless it happens to be their nickname; see no. 42.
        If, on the other hand, they’re caught acting lolo (wot, again?) they just use one of the many good excuses they’ve already used lots of times before when they were caught behaving stupidly.
  24. “Low, low prices” have a different connotation than on the mainland.
  25. If they can’t remember a good excuse quickly enough to avoid looking even more lolo, they just say, “Wot, boddah you?” [What’s the matter, did whatever I was doing bother you?], or, mo’ bettah [even better], “Wot?”
  26. When someone tells them something unexpected they ask, “Hahkum?” [How come (that’s so)? or Why is that?].
        [We only recently discovered that this isn’t a standard English response and people don’t understand what you mean if you say this on the mainland.]
        [This use of the word “come” can be very effectively combined with the variants involving traveling: “Hahkum you go stay go when I stay go coming already? Now I come stay habuts fo real!” (Why did you leave when I was already on my way over to meet you? Now I’m really upset!) See no. 63 and no. 83.]
  27. When someone informs them that something needs to be done they ask, “Fo wat?” [For what reason? Why? Note: the multipurpose “Hahkum?” also works nicely in this case. Also note that, to be most effective and authentic, the inflection always goes down at the end of a question (see no. 65).]
  28. If it’s Kona weather [warm wind coming from the direction of Kona (south) or no cooling tradewinds at all], they say, “Atsui! Atsui!,” or “Ho da hot!”
  29. When they get into a fix they say things are “aw jam up” [messed up].
  30. If things don’t go their way they say, “Gunfunit!” [Confound it!]
  31. If makeup doesn’t improve your appearance, they say, “Poho” or “Wase time” [a waste of time].
  32. Their philosophy on getting something done is, “If can, can. If no can, no can.” [If it’s at all possible to accomplish it, I’ll surely get it done. If it turns out to be an impossible task then I won’t be able to do it for you.]
  33. If they mess up, somebody is bound to ask, “Wassamattayou?” [What’s the matter with you? or What’s wrong with you? Compare to no. 28.]

    A local conversation can go something like this:
    “Wassamattame? Wassamattayou wassamattame?”
    [“What’s wrong with you?”
    “What’s wrong with me? What is your problem, asking me what’s wrong with me?”]
  34. Their sentence structure is “somewhat loose” and is closer to many foreign languages than to proper English: the subject often follows the verb (which, to make matters worse, is sometimes omitted).
        E.g., “Ho, so small the place!” [“Wow, this is such a small world!”] See Friends > Stanford > More Pictures > Lois and John (near the bottom of the page), or Dobis, for appropriate applications of this sentence.
        [Another example, “Oh wow li’dat, wen go awready da guys.” (How rude of them! You missed your ride because your friends didn’t wait for you to get here.)]
  35. When it’s done they say “pau!” [finished].
Recommended References:
Pidgin to da Max, and
Pidgin to da Max Hana Hou! [Hana Hou = again]
(Peppovision, Inc., Honolulu, 1982)