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The Hawaiian Renaissance by George S. Kanahele
May 1979

But isn't it reassuring to know that the University of Hawaii has so many students wishing to register for Hawaiian classes that neither its staff nor budget can cope with the demand? Professor Larry Kimura can recall when there was only one instructor; and now there are more than a dozen.

Characteristically, as in music, art and other fields, persons interested in keeping Hawaiian alive organized themselves. So in 1972, another Renaissance organization, Aha Hui Olelo Hawaii, was born. It has grown in numbers and activities. One of its most interesting is the weekly talkshow on KCCN conducted entirely in Hawaiian.

Isn't it heartening to know that high schools, both private and public, teach Hawaiian? The classes at Kailua High have been so popular that one teacher has barely been able to handle the load. Kamehameha, of course, has been offering Hawaiian for several years, although it has had a rather spotty record in this regard. Can you imagine that at one time Kamehameha proscribed its teaching and even punished students who were caught speaking Hawaiian.

Isn't it good to know that after many years of campaigning that the Department of Education has allowed Hawaiian to be taught at the elementary school level in communities where there are large numbers of Hawaiian pupils?

The growth of interest in Hawaiian in the schools is revealed by this statement from an editorial in the Honolulu Advertiser last year that "Only Hawaiian and Japanese languages have shown an increase over the last ten years in public schools here, partly due to ethnic and cultural awareness and partly to economic possibilities."

Isn't it interesting that one of the best-selling books published by the University Press of Hawaii is still the Pukui-Elbert Hawaiian Dictionary which costs $15 per copy? How else can you explain it.

You know that not only Hawaiians but non-ethnic Hawaiians as well have long taken an interest in learning and maintaining the language. In fact, some of our best teachers, as well as speakers, have not a drop of Hawaiian blood. One student, who happens to be a Norwegian from Minnesota, has a pregnant idea. He wants to get all persons or organizations with Hawaiian names to spell them correctly with all the pronunciation marks.

"And then," he insists," I want them to tell the telephone company to spell their names right in the next published phone directory, or take the company to court."

He also wants the city to correct all its signs with Hawaiian names. One wag describes his campaign as the "glottal stop revival."

What takes the cake is the Con Con amendment making Hawaiian and English the official languages of the State. Can you imagine James Wakatsuki calling the House of Representatives to order in Hawaiian? Who knows what will happen.

Given these facts, it is clear that Hawaiian is still very much a living language. While we should not be under any illusions about the difficulty of maintaining what has been called a "linguistic enclave" in a community dominated by English, we can be somewhat secure in the thought that as long as the culture thrives, so will Hawaiian. In terms of their fate, the two are inseparable.

We said earlier that one of the distinguishing characteristics of the Renaissance is a great interest in studying the past and in the pursuit of knowledge in general. There is no mistaking that this is also true of the Hawaiian Renaissance. From young composers to canoe paddlers, from ethnomusicologists to artist, from students to professors, there's a kind of stampede back to the past. Everybody seems to be shouting, "Ho'i ana i ke kumu" or Back to the source."

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