What Are They Saying? Hawaii's Pidgin

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As foreign as this dialogue may sound to visitors, it is one you are likely to hear amongst locals as they greet each other and discuss the day's surf. And if you find yourself wondering what they are talking about, you will surely not be alone. Referred to as "pidgin," this local slang language developed as a means for Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, and Portugese immigrants to communicate not only with each other, but also with Native Hawaiians and Americans residing in Hawaii.
Sprinkled with versions of words or phrases from each culture, pidgin has continued to evolve over time. Today, you will hear it throughout the islands -- used heavily by some locals and intermixed into the otherwise perfect English of others. There is even a popular book called Pidgin To Da Max by Douglas Simonson, Pat Sasaki, and Ken Sakata devoted to describing and translating pidgin. Amongst locals, it is a true classic and you may want to check it out before you arrive. But just in case you don't have time to become fluent in pidgin, here are a few words and phrases you might find useful during your stay in the islands:

Ai Yah! (eye yah)
Definition: oops, shucks or darn.

Any Kine (en-ee-kyne)
Definition: any kind; anything goes

Baumboocha (bahm boo cha)
Definition: Huge; Large.

Can/No can
Definition: Can = it is possible
Definition: No can = cannot; not possible

Chance um
Definition: go for it!; take a chance

Cheee hoooo (chee whoo)
Defintition: woo hoo or yeee haw! A local expression of excitement and joy.

Cuz
Definition: Short for cousin, but applies to friends or family.

Da kine (duh kai-n)
Definition: Dakine has multiple meanings and uses. It is mostly used to explain something you can’t think of the words.

Eh (Ay)
Definition: Hey; often used to get someone’s attention

Grinds
Definition: Food.

K-den (Kay Den)
Definition: Okay then. Alright then. We’ll see you later. Goodbye.

L’dat (lah dat)
Definition: Often used like a period at the end of a sentence; like that, and such.

Pau hana (Pow ha nuh)
Definition: Celebrating the end of the work day; done with work.

Shoots
Definition: Strongly agreed or understood. Add a "den" or "then" to the end and it becomes "see you later"

Talk Story
Definition: To gossip; To talk with friends.

Try Wait
Definition: Please hold on; wait a minute.

Ukus (ooh koohz)
Definition: Head lice; fleas.

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