Pidgin: The Voice of Hawai‘i
Born on sugar plantations and spoken by more than half of Hawaii's population, the Pidgin language captures the essence of multi-ethnic Hawaiʻi.
Born on sugar plantations and spoken by more than half of Hawaii’s population, the Pidgin language - part English, part Hawaiian, with pieces of Chinese, Japanese, and Tagalog mixed in - captures the essence of multi-ethnic Hawaiʻi. Pidgin: The Voice of Hawaiʻi profiles this working-class language from its rise from plantation jargon to a source of island identity and pride.
In the 1920s, English Standard Schools - government funded public schools that refused to admit Pidgin-speaking children - fueled anti-Pidgin, anti-Asian sentiment and left behind a legacy of shame in speaking Pidgin. Drawing on a variety of sources, including archival, academic and other expert commentary, interviews and performance to shed light on this colorful language, the documentary charts how over time, Pidgin speakers have been moved to take pride in their language.
Available until September 2017 through APT
Marlene Booth teaches film at the University of Hawaiʻi and is an award-winning filmmaker, who has worked in film since 1975, for public television station WGBH-TV in Boston and as an independent filmmaker. She has produced and directed several major documentary films screened on PBS and cable television, at national and international film festivals, and in classrooms nationwide. Her major films include: “Yidl in the Middle: Growing Up Jewish in Iowa,” (1999), “When I Was 14: A Survivor Remembers,” (1995), “The Double Burden: Three Generations of Working Mothers,” (1992), “The Forward: From Immigrants to Americans,” (1989), and “They Had a Dream: Brown v Board of Education Twenty-five Years Later,”(1980).
Kanalu Young passed away in 2008. Pidgin: The Voice of Hawaiʻi is dedicated to his memory. An associate professor of Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawaiʻi-Mānoa, Kanalu’s teaching and research interests included portrayals of indigenous Pacific Island cultures in film and television. He appeared as an historian in the PBS “American Experience” documentary, “The Massie Affair.” He produced and wrote the video, “Making the Grade,” about the importance of culture in building self-esteem and academic success at a charter school in Honolulu. The host of a monthly issues and answers television program on community access television, Kanalu’s wide interests included songwriting, chant composition, chanting, and ink and pencil drawing.