Last night I went to a wake for my friend, Helen's 95 year old mother. It was a beautiful Catholic funeral. Helen is Filipino American. Because of their Spanish heritage many Filipinos are Catholic.
The funerals in Hawaii are quite different from the mainland. Since this was a wake I assumed it would be like the mainland where you go to sit with and comfort the bereaved, and after a time leave. However, this wake was just like a local funeral where there was a service and then refreshments afterward. The refreshments were a fabulous all out buffet dinner. I was sorry we had dinner before we went. Ah well, we had a 2nd dinner anyway.
It was great seeing Helen again as well as several other high school friends. We were able to reminisce and laugh about everything. At one point someone we met this evening asked where we were from. When I told her we came back to Hawaii after 35 years away in the Midwest she said, "I could tell when I heard you speak that you weren't from here." That shook me up a little. I know my accent is more standard after being away from Hawaii for such a long time but is it that obvious? I told her I could speak pidgin. I just need time. Well, I've had over a year now to get back into the groove but it's still not back yet although Tif and Jon will laugh sometimes when I'm speaking to them on the phone. If you speak a forced pidgin English, I believe locals can tell. Therefore, I have to let it come back on its own.
What is pidgin?
Here is the definition for pidgin from Wikipedia:
"Pidgin (or Hawaiʻi Creole) originated as a form of communication used between English speaking residents and non-English speaking immigrants in Hawaiʻi. It supplanted the pidgin Hawaiian used on the plantations and elsewhere in Hawaiʻi. It has been influenced by many languages, including Portuguese, Hawaiian, and Cantonese. As people of other language backgrounds were brought in to work on the plantations, such as Japanese, Filipinos, and Koreans, Pidgin acquired words from these languages. Japanese loanwords in Hawaiʻi lists some of those words originally from Japanese. It has also been influenced to a lesser degree by Spanish spoken by Mexican and Puerto Rican settlers in Hawaiʻi."
The thing is, pidgin and standard English can define who you are. People form an opinion of you as soon as you open your mouth here in the islands. They'll know if you're local kamaaina and an insider or a malihini outsider. Does this remind you of Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady?
So how come I no can talk pidgin yet? I don't know. You just wait and I going talk pidgin mo bettah latah.