Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Revisiting the glaring absence of Hawaiian, one of the two official languages of the State of Hawaii, in state documents

by Larry Geller

Comments on older articles get buried on this style of blog, so I’d like to highlight this comment, just received, to my 10/8/2010 article, #Justasking – why no Hawaiian language ballots or election materials in Hawaii?

In that article I asked why Hawaii’s election materials are available in a variety of languages, but not in Hawaiian, which is, after all, an official language of the state?

Pictured at left is an absentee ballot application. No Hawaiian version. Shouldn’t that be the first alternative language listed??



E Ken Conklin, ua pūʻiwa au i kāu hāʻina i kēia nīnau. He aha lā ka pahuhopu nui o ke aʻo ʻana i ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi?? ʻO ia nō ka hoʻohana ʻana. Ua hoʻokumu ʻia nā kula ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi no kēia hana. Pehea kākou e holomua ai inā manaʻo ka poʻe ua hiki ke ʻōlelo Haole, no laila ʻaʻole pono kēia mau palapala ma o ka ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi? ʻAʻOLE. Aʻo kākou i kēia ʻōlelo i mea e hoʻoulu ai i ke kaiāulu ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi a hoʻohana i kēia ʻōlelo ma nā mea ʻano like ʻole! ʻaʻole kākou e holomua ana inā loaʻa kekahi mau poʻe e like me ʻoe. He nīnau maikaʻi nō kēia nīnau. ʻAʻole hūpō. A eia kekahi nīnau, no ke aha ʻoe i aʻo i ka 'ōlelo Hawaiʻi inā ʻaʻole ʻoe e hoʻohana ana????

Aloha Larry,

Mahalo for your question. I agree with what you say. How can Hawaiian be an official language, and NOT be on ballots and other legal documents. Its an unfortunate thing. As i stated above to Ken, the main goal of learning and teaching Hawaiian Language is to use it. Not to revert back to English because weʻve learned Hawaiian as a "second language".. What about the children who are learning Hawaiian as a FIRST language? I have many friends who only speak Hawaiian to their children. Most Immersion students learn Hawaiian, not as a second language, but as a living evolving language they use at home, school, and with friends. How can the "State" of Hawaiʻi print documents in other languages and neglect the growing population of Hawaiian language speakers. Its an issue that should be resolved, and many of us are fighting for these rights, and we need more support.

naʻu nō,

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.


This is a problematic issue no question. This should be resolved in favor of revitalizing the use of the Hawaiian language but should not be permitted to be used to simply re-injecting xenophobic anti-immigrant discourse that some Hawaiians and haoles of the territorial period were so fond of doing under the banner of supporting things Hawaiian.

If there is a limited source of funding for separate language material, the priority should be enfranchising actual voters cannot understand election material because it is not available in their language. Enfranchising voters takes priority over helping to revitalize the Hawaiian language if the two policy objectives are put in conflict. I am very curious what the real motivations might be to put those two policy objectives in conflict.

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