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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Mahalo Hawaii, On This Day in 1959 You Became a State

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This day in history: Hawaii became the 5oth State.

Virtual field trip of Hawai

Below is a video of Hawaii's attempt to preserve their culture by reviving their language. Language is the glue that binds all cultures, their identity, and CANNOT be translated exactly.
There are nuances in all languages, emotions, subtleness.

Last summer our family spent a week on Maui. My ten year old daughter wanted to know how to say "good morning", so I asked an employee (native) at the hotel where we were staying "How do you say good morning in Hawaiian?"

She answered, "Aloha"

I replied, "I thought that means 'hello' generally, or a sort of welcoming implied"

"We have no specific 'good morning' " she responded, "Aloha is what we say for good morning also, we say this for all greetings"

As an English speaker I was perplexed. How can you not have a specific greeting for that which is intended? It got me thinking, there is something subtle in this difference, there is a CULTURAL specificity that cannot be translated, can "Aloha" be said without knowing what the Hawaiian language is implying? If I learn the subtleness of this word heard so often as a tourist (along with mahalo of course) can I go beyond the surface of my brief visit here.

The answer of course is yes. Because in order to understand any culture completely, one must know the language, because this is the spoken identity of that culture and is UNIQUE and like no other.

Aloha and Mahalo:

Aloha and mahalo are ineffable, indescribable, and undefinable with words alone; to be understood, they must be experienced.

Deeper meaning and sacredness is hinted at by the root words of these words. Linguists differ in their opinions as to the exact meanings and origins, but this is what was told to me by my kupuna (elder):

On a spiritual level, aloha is an invocation of the Divine and mahalo is a Divine blessing. Both are acknowledgments of the Divinity that dwells within and without.

[Alo = presence, front, face] + [ = breath]
"The presence of (Divine) Breath."

[Ma = In] + [ = breath] + [alo = presence, front, face]
"(May you be) in (Divine) Breath."

Think of them as single-word blessings or prayers.

Youtube: "The Soul of my Culture" Why don't I speak my language? What can I do to learn my language? How can I help to perpetuate the language and culture? This video (a webcam copy of a documentary-but absolutely ok to view) is a documentary about Hawaii's effort to maintain their native language.

"When you loose your language, you loose the soul of your culture"

When you use your language, you are expressing the soul of your culture.

In order for the people's of the world to understand each other, we must understand each other's language. Language is not something to be afraid of, language is a means of communication. Each culture is unique, each human being a unique child of our creator, using their own language given them. Celebrate diversity, practice respect, and learn from one another.

Mahalo. Salam, Shalom, Peace and Blessings.

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