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Crossing East: Proud to Speak Pidgin, Brah

Producer Dmae Roberts shares an audio postcard of some Hawaiians who are proud to speak pidgin -- a home-grown version of English with words and phrases borrowed from Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Portuguese, Hawaiian and other languages brought to the islands over the centuries.

Lee Tonouchi, a pidgin scholar and author of books on the island chain's unique language, believes pidgin has its own intellectual foundation:

"The perception is the pidgin talker is going to be perceived as less intelligent than the standard English talker," he says. "When I was in college, after I discovered guys writing in pidgin, I said 'Heck yeah, I can do this pidgin creative writing.' Eventually I did my 30-page research papers in pidgin. I did my master's thesis in pidgin."

Voices in the broadcast piece include Domingo Los Banos, Espy Garcia, Lee Tonouchi, Kent Sakoda and Jeffrey Siegel.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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