Homework The Way I See It Zippys Hawaii

Is the Hawaiian Language Dead or Alive?

Thousands more young people today speak ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i (Hawaiian language) than did their counterparts 30 years ago. Or at least they’re schooled in it. But is that enough to revive a language?

By Constance Hale


Published:


(page 3 of 4)

The family took the leap. Helped by courses offered for immersion-school parents, Lyman gave herself a crash course, learning alongside the children.

 

Her husband’s support came along, and Lyman’s own uncertainty has been replaced by a sense of connection to Hawaiian culture. Never was that connection clearer than when Malie was just learning how to speak in sentences. At that time, Aunty Genoa was in her late 80s. 

 

“As my daughter was learning Hawaiian, she was speaking to my grandma, and I could listen to the two of them,” Lyman explains. “And it was good for my grandma, because by that time she was reverting to her earlier years. When she was my daughter’s age, she was speaking Hawaiian to her grandma. And this was in her home, in Papakōlea.

 

“Although I have lost my grandma, I feel that I have gained—not a replacement, but something that can fill the hole.”

 

Over the air, on the screen, in the supermarket

Lyman commits to the revival of the ‘ōlelo in ways both large (driving all four kids, every day, to Samuel Kamakau charter school in Kāne‘ohe) and small (writing all her checks in Hawaiian). Check writing may seem like an insignificant act of rebellion, but she isn’t the only person who mentions doing this as a way of asserting Hawaiian not just as an official state language, but as a living one.

 

Musician Kuana Torres Kahele said he and most of his Hawaiian-speaking friends write checks in Hawaiian, too. Kahele, 35, came to the checkwriting tactic through a different route. He starting learning Hawaiian when, at 10, he began singing his heart out. His mother, he says, “was raised mānaleo (a native speaker) in Waipi‘o Valley, and she started blasting me with all the mele she knew—and focused on my pronunciation.” 

 

Kahele took ‘ōlelo class at Hilo High School in the early ’90s, because, he says, smiling, “Mom could help me with my homework.” By the time he graduated, he could hold a conversation. 

 

“Mom gave me the tools to understand,” he says, “but music gave me insight into the old ways of speaking.” Kahele doesn’t want to be stuck in those old ways, though. So, when he is writing poetry, he hits the dictionary, seeking new words to express new nuances.

 

Or he hits up his relatives. For “Waimanu i ke Lauaha,” he went to Waipi‘o to talk to his aunties and uncles. They gave him the names of cliffs, the names of places, the names of waterfalls.  The song has 11 verses. “When you go down there, you can see why there are so many verses. You cannot cut a place short.”

 

It’s one thing to hear that musicians are pushing themselves to renew poetry. But a living language needs to exist offstage. One of the most interesting efforts to assure that Hawaiian isn’t a fossilized language like Latin is the work of the Hawaiian Lexicon Committee.  To a certain extent, the Hawaiian vocabulary froze in the 19th century, when a series of laws solidified English as the language of government and schools (see timeline). Formed in 1987, the Lexicon Committee brought native speakers and elders together to figure out how to add to the language contemporary words and concepts (like “snack,” “email” and “biological evolution”). In 1996, the committee released a new-words dictionary, Māmaka Kaiao, as a companion to the authoritative Hawaiian Dictionary by Pukui and Elbert.

 

With or without new songs and new words, anecdotes told to me by friends and acquaintances convinced me that there is in fact more Hawaiian in the air today. And not just words and phrases—real dialogue. A Mainland kumu hula, on a flight home, recalls sitting next to a young girl doing her homework in Hawaiian. Gerard Elmore, executive director of the ‘Ohina Short Film Showcase, noted an uptick—“the most we have ever had”—in Hawaiian-language films in 2013. A friend recalls reaching for a guava juice in a grocery store refrigerator, and hearing a mother scolding her kid in ‘ōlelo. And Mountain Apple Co. president Leah Bernstein says, these days, backstage at concerts, she’s the only one not speaking Hawaiian. “When the dancers’ kids ask me something,” she notes, “I answer, ‘Auntie doesn’t speak Hawaiian.’ Their eyebrows arch.”

 

Public agencies and private enterprise are both getting into the act. Thanks to bureaucrats, Hawaiian street names are now perfectly pronounced over the PA system on TheBus—in the easy-to-listen-to baritone of UH language professor Puakea Nogelmeier. And, in February 2011, travelers began to hear a greeting broadcast throughout Honolulu International Airport—first in Hawaiian, then in English: Aloha e nā makamaka kipa mai i ke Kahua Mokulele Kau‘āina O Honolulu!  E nā ‘ōhua e ha‘alele ana, no ‘oukou ka maluhia o ka holo ‘ana a ho‘i hou mai.  E nā malihini i hō‘ea mai me nā kama‘āina pū kekahi, ke aloha o ka ‘āina iā ‘oukou a pau! (“Welcome to the Honolulu International Airport. If you’re headed out, travel safely and come back soon. Kama‘āina, welcome home. And if you’ve just arrived, we hope that you enjoy your stay in our Islands!”)

 

Greeting both newcomers and kama‘āina in Hawaiian was a no-brainer, says Keli‘i Wilson, Hawai‘i Tourism Authority’s bilingual director of cultural affairs. “When you arrive in Paris, you hear French,” she says. “When you arrive at Narita, you hear Japanese.” 

 

The Evangelist

Nogelmeier has been instrumental in other ambitious projects to revitalize the linguistic landscape. In 2012, he launched Ike Kū‘oko‘a (“Liberating Knowledge”), an effort to digitize 125,000 pages of the 19th-century Hawaiian-language newspapers. (Over eight months, 2,700 volunteers from across the globe transcribed 16,000 typed-up newspaper pages.) 

 

He’s currently cooking up a five-step plan to give a boost to the “living” part of the language revitalization effort. The plan starts with a TheBus App (providing pronunciation, meaning and a story for every stop). Then it moves to the movies (just as Star Wars was translated into Navajo, blockbusters will be created with lip-synched Hawaiian versions). He imagines a full-time, 24/7 Hawaiian-language radio station and more Hawaiian TV programming. In homage to a group that used to meet Tuesday nights at Ala Moana Beach Park, he’s looking to start daily conversation groups at different sites. Then there is “guerrilla public language”: developing audio and text cheat sheets with Hawaiian expressions to fill the “vacated spaces” of elevators, Zippy’s menus and Macy’s bathrooms. 

 

He seems to be able to will the preposterous into being. Sixty years old, with a fringe of reddish hair, Nogelmeier started studying ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i when he arrived in Honolulu as an 18-year-old from Minnesota. He found one mentor, Theodore Kelsey, who had learned Hawaiian in the 1890s. Then he found others. Much later, he went the university route, earning a master’s in Pacific Island Studies and a Ph.D. in Anthropology. 

 

When asked about the state of the Hawaiian language, he leans back on one of the generous pūne‘e (couches) in his Kalihi home. “It’s strong in some places, but it’s tenuous,” he answers. “It is not secure as a living language. But it’s sure a lot more secure than it was 30 years ago.”

 

“In the ’70s,” he continues, “I felt like a renegade soldier. I don’t feel like I’m part of a brigade today, but I feel part of a community. Maybe a disjointed community, but a community.”

 

The cycle restored

One member of that community is Larry Lindsey Kimura, the UH Hilo professor who was present at that fateful meeting on Kaua‘i in 1983, when scholars decided to focus on children. “Language is sometimes taken for granted,” says Kimura. “But it bears many aspects of our humanity beyond communication—who we are, how we think. If the Hawaiian language does not survive, then we as Hawaiians don’t survive.”

 

“Thirty years after the first babies started speaking Hawaiian at Pūnana Leo, we see them speak Hawaiian to their own little babies. The cycle is gradually being restored.”

 

Kimura’s words came back to me when Pōmaika‘i Keawe Lyman, working on her grilled butter rolls at Liliha Bakery, said, “Going to Punahou, I was given the basics of how to function in society—but not the basics of who I am.” Her voice grew steadier. “My children are bright. They are able to switch. They will learn how to survive in society. They could grow up to run a lo‘i, or be a kumu hula, or just go back to these schools as teachers. 

 

“But I know that they know who they are—they have an identity, a purpose, a connection to the land and their ancestors. They know that there’s a reason for the rain, for the clouds.” 

You already know the easiest way to build YOUR blog is to find a blog with a larger readership than you…

…and then persuade them to send you some of their readers.

BUT HOW?

How can you entice someone to link you when you feel like you have NOTHING to give them in return?

Or better yet, how can you get someone you don’t know to help you with anything?

That’s what I’m going to show you how to do in today’s blog post.

But first, I’m going to show you WHAT NOT TO DO.

Let’s Kick This Off With A Real Example…

A few days ago, this guy sent me an email to ask if I could help him out by sending him a few readers.

(He obviously knows the benefit of getting large bloggers to send him traffic)

Unfortunately, there was no way I could say “YES!” to his request…

…and the guy looked like a good, honest dude, too.

Why?

Here’s the email:

Now can you tell me what this dude did wrong here?

Here’s a hint:

EVERYTHING in the email is about him.

There’s NOTHING in the email that gives me a reason to even CONSIDER sending him traffic.

I’m not pointing this out to make fun of this guy, because as I said, I believe he’s an honest dude who’s still learning the ropes.

The reason why I’m pointing this out is because I get a million of these emails each week.

So thing not to do #1:

If you’re contacting someone you don’t know, NEVER make it all about yourself.

This is actually a UNIVERSAL rule in life.

If you’d like to make a solid impression on someone, you should NEVER make the conversation about “ME ME ME ME.”

If you wanted to learn more about this very problem, I actually created a video and a free PDF where I go into this in detail. It’s called “How to email influential people.”

That said…

Here’s Another Thing You Should NEVER Do…

Let me show a quick example:

“Hey Derek,

You’ve helped me out so much that I’d like to return the favor. If there’s anything you need help with, just let me know.”

What’s wrong here?

The email is clearly all about me, but it misses the mark… MASSIVELY.

Why?

When you send an email that says “If there’s anything you need help with, let me know,” you mean well, but you’re putting the onus on the person you’re emailing to “figure out” how you might be able to help them.

So, what you’re doing, in turn, is offering to help… and creating work for the person you’re trying to help.

They’re already busy, so the email often gets ignored.

And that leads me to thing not to do #2:

If you’re contacting someone you don’t know, NEVER extend a generic offer to help.

This is ALSO a universal rule of life.

So, whether you’re applying for a job, trying to land a new consulting engagement, or even looking for a way to partner up with someone you admire, it’s your job to present exactly how you’d like to work together… and the specific benefits of doing so.

But the question remains: Now that I know what NOT to do, what should I do?

And what if I feel like I have NOTHING to offer in return?

Keep reading.

The Dirty Little Secret Behind Getting People To Do Things For You…

As you might have noticed from “things not to do,” the real secret behind getting people to do things for you relies on one little word:

INCENTIVE!

If you want someone to do ANYTHING for you, you must provide them an incentive for doing so.

And the more important the person you’re contacting, the bigger incentive you must provide.

It’s really that simple.

I know we’re talking about blogging and links, but let me share a quick story about this guy Elliot Bisnow.

Back in 2008, Elliot was running a niche industry newsletter with his father. He had some questions about business and decided that the best advice would come from other young entrepreneurs.

But how could he get in contact with these other young entrepreneurs? That’s when he devised a simple plan. Here’s a direct quote from Inc. Magazine:

“Bisnow’s pitch was simple and, as it turned out, hard to turn down: Come out to Park City, Utah, and spend a few days skiing, hanging, and networking with other successful young entrepreneurs. The kicker? Bisnow agreed to pay their way.”

That’s it.

And guess what happened?

The young entrepreneurs (many of which were on the 30 under 30), were SOLD… All because Elliot provided a GREAT incentive to network.

But let’s take this back to you…

What incentive can YOU provide to someone?

That leads me to:

The Three Types of Incentives—Each Of Which Has The Potential To Be A Bullseye

A while back I read Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. In it, they said there are 3 types of incentives:

  1. Economic incentives
  2. Social incentives
  3. Moral incentives.

To break each of them down, for simplicity’s sake, economic incentives involve money, social incentives involve fitting in (or meeting new people), and moral incentives involve “doing the greater good.”

Well, it turns out, when you want to contact someone, with hopes of persuading them to link you (or do something for you), you should appeal to one (or ALL) of these incentives.

(You’ll have to decide which works best).

To show you how this works, let me share some specific examples:

Example #1: The Economic Incentive

Back when I launched my podcast, I had the desire to feature world-renowned researchers, New York Times best-selling authors, and professors from top universities.

I had no connections in this space, but I wanted some. So, what did I do? I appealed to an economic incentive.

Here’s an example:

Dear John,

I noticed you have a book coming out in a few weeks, and I believe my readers, over at my blog, would eat it up. Would you be interested in doing a 20 minute interview, and I would feature it to all of my readers? We’ll also be able to end with a pitch for your book.

As you can see, what I want is this professor on my podcast. What he wants is to sell more of his books.

Did I email him and say, “I’d love to have you on my podcast because you’d be a great fit?”

No.

I made the email all about him… from an economic standpoint.

Let’s look at another example.

Example #2: The Social Incentive

The economic incentive was a bit self-explanatory, so how would this work from a social standpoint?

Here’s the example:

Dear John,

I recently read that piece of research you published, and I couldn’t help but wonder “Why doesn’t EVERYONE know about this?”

I was wondering, would you be interested in doing a quick 20 minute interview where we talk about this piece of research? In the past I’ve featured research from Max, someone I know you’ve worked with in the past, and I believe your research will be a big hit on my blog.

Now do you see what I did there?

I wasn’t talking about big readership numbers… I just merely mentioned that I covered some work from one of his colleagues (his colleague wasn’t even in an interview), and that I believe he’d fit in perfectly.

Social incentives at work.

Let’s look at the last incentive.

Example #3: The Moral Incentive

Let’s cut straight to it. Here’s the example:

Dear John,

I recently read that piece of research you published, and I couldn’t help but wonder “Why doesn’t EVERYONE know about this?”

As a matter of fact, this is one of the reasons why I launched my podcast Social Triggers. My big goal is to bring the insights from academic papers to the general public.

I was wondering, would you be interested in doing a quick 20 minute interview? We can highlight your research to all of my listeners, and hopefully we can both make the world a little bit smarter!

Now, to be quite honest, in this scenario, appealing to a moral incentive is quite weak, but I wanted to keep the examples consistent.

But do you see what I did there?

Instead of focusing on selling books, or joining your colleagues, I’m talking more about “making the world a better place… together.”

That’s a moral incentive in action.

And finally, let me show you how I’d use ALL THREE incentives at once.

Dear John,

I noticed you have a book coming out in a few weeks, and I believe my readers over at my blog would eat it up.

Would you be interested in doing a 30 minute interview where we talk about your book… and end with a pitch for your book?

Right now I’ve got more than 70,000 subscribers, and I suspect we could sell a few hundred books.

Thus far, I’ve featured people like Max, Jane, Dan, and other people whom I’m sure you’re familiar with. Would love to have your interview alongside theirs.

Let me know if you’re interested. I started this podcast as a way to promote the hard work of researchers like you, so I hope you have 30 minutes where I can highlight your new book.

See how that works?

As you pack on the incentives, the pitch gets more and more irresistible.

Now let’s take this back to asking bloggers to send you some of their readers.

What can you do?

How to Persuade Bloggers To Share Your Work With Their Readers

As you learned throughout this post, the secret to getting people to do something for you is providing an incentive to do it.

But how might this work with enticing people to share your work with their readers?

In my premium training, Blog that Converts, I walk you through 7 content archetypes that BEG to be shared…

…and how to use each of them.

I also walk you through the promotional strategies that light a fire under people and get them sharing / linking your stuff.

But for now, here’s what you need to know about getting people to link you:

While you MUST provide an incentive, you should NEVER make the other person feel “cheap.”

What do I mean by that?

Don’t come at someone and say, I’ll send you some traffic, if you send me some traffic.

That comes off as grimy.

Instead, what you need to do is this:

Review the type of work the person you’re emailing puts out IN DETAIL.

Then ask yourself, “Is there anything I can do to add to this conversation? Is there anything I can do to make this guy look better?”

And then do that.

As an example, let’s say I read an article by some blogger that said “Design is King.”

That blogger then went on to list the reasons why he believes design is king.

How would I reach out to him?

I’d say this:

Just read your article about “Design is King.” What’s funny is, I’ve always believed the same thing, and some people don’t. Well, check this: I stumbled on some research that PROVES design is king. It was done by a university in London, and I think you’ll dig it. Here’s the link.

What’s the incentive here?

There’s no seeming “economic, social, or moral” incentive, but it’s there… hidden in plain sight.

If I provide research suggesting that the person I’m emailing is RIGHT, then I’m giving him a reason why he’d LOVE to share my article with his fans. My article says he’s right, and people LOVE being right (that’s a social and economic incentive).

See how that works?

Okay, now I have some homework…

…and it’s going to be a fun one.

For tonight’s homework I want you to write a sample email where you show me how you’d convince someone you don’t know to do something for you.

And this could be anything… Do you want a link? Do you want them on an interview? Do you want to guest post?

Show me how you’d convince them to do it by leaving a comment below.

And remember, when writing your email, try to appeal to all three incentives.

I’ll read every single comment, and I’ll even pop in and give some people feedback on some of your sample emails.

Want to Know How to Email Influential People (And Actually Get a Response)?

Download this free eBook to get the word-for-word scripts you can use to do exactly that.

Yes, send me the free ebook

Want to Know How to Email Influential People (And Actually Get a Response)?

Download this free eBook to get the word-for-word scripts you can use to do exactly that.

Yes, send me the free ebook

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