Much of the joy in visiting Kauai and the islands in general for that matter is to observe and even immerse oneself in the culture; like going to a hula show, experiencing a luau, even  hanging out at a popular local grinds spot.

Language is another way to experience true Hawaii.  In an earlier post Hawaiian Words we started a list of some of the popular words in the Hawaiian language.  But another dialect that illustrates the cultural diversity here on the island is Pidgin, a combination of English, Hawaiian, Chinese, Japanese, and Portuguese, dating back to the plantation era of Hawaii when all of these cultures were working together and needed a form of communication that all could understand.

Over half of the people in Hawaii use pidgin and for many it is considered an official language of the islands.

The Most Common Used Words and Phrases:


akamai (ah-kah-MY). Smart, intelligent.

da kine. The kind. The ultimate pidgin phrase. Can mean virtually anything. 1)Eh, you get any da kine? 2) Ho, brah, dat’s da kine. 3) She wen da kine foa get da kine foa da kine.

boddah you? Are you disturbed by this? Jesse wen go foa da Macy’s wid me. Wot? Boddah you?

brah. bruddah, braddah Brother. Eh, brah, get one nuddah beer?

brok da mout. Broke the mouth. Incredibly delicious.

da cute. Oh how precious! Did you see Pua’s new keiki? Da cute!

grind. To eat. So what you like grind?

hana hou. Once more, again.  Do dat hana hou!

haole (HOW-lay). Anglo, Caucasian persuasion. (Hawaiian word) Has a derogatory tone.

? How are you? Howzit, brah?

kay den. All right. Kay den, I show you my place.

lolo. The flip-side of akamai. Not smart. Oh, Melvin, dat haole, he so lolo.

moke (rhymes with coke). Big,  local Hawaiian.

ono (OH-no). Actual Hawaiian word, meaning delicious.

pau (pow) (Hawaiian word) used constantly, meaning finished or done

pau hana (pow HAH-nah). Another actual Hawaiian phrase. Means after work. Pau hana Friday.

slippah (SLEE-pah). Thong, slipper.

stink eye. Dirty look. Ho, brah, Rita geev me stink eye!

tita (TIT-ah).  Local female. Version of moke.

For further information  here is a link to a YouTube video that will give you a sample of ‘Pidgin in action;Hawaii Pidgin The Voice of Hawaii 

And of course, the definitive dictionary of pidgin  “Pidgin to da Max”   has been around since the 80’s  and gives a fun way to start your immersion into Pidgin.