Hawai’ian Language: A Case Study in Native and Asian Intersectionality in the U.S.

Hawai’ian Language: A Case Study in Native and Asian Intersectionality in the U.S.

For every community, identity is very closely tied to language. This is especially true for those that have a migratory history of displacement, colonization, and forced migration. The dispersion can cause language death, a phenomenon that plagues many aging diasporic communities. This occurs when language fluency decreases so much that there are no longer any native speakers of the language, dialect, pidgin, or creole. Many other things are lost with the end of that lexicon, like expressions and concepts that define daily life. Many indigenous communities around the world are quickly working to create learning tools and dictionaries based on recordings and memories of elders. 

In the United States, First Nations and Indigenous people are leaders in this effort. Most particularly, Hawai’ians have battled for centuries against great odds to hold onto their linguistic traditions, which are sacred ground for honoring their native, Asian, and royal heritage. The effort to retain and pre...

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