Monday, May 30, 2016

How Mandarin Helps understand Hawaiian

While I was in Hawaii recently, I realized that a language concept from Mandarin helps you understand what to answer when a Hawaiian says "Mahalo"

when a Chinese speaker says "Xie,Xie" there is no phrase for you're welcome. You say "mei wen ti" which means no problem.

When a Hawaiian says"Mahalo" (thank you), you say "a ole pilikia" which means no problem. There is no phrase for you're welcome in Hawaiin.

If you are praised in Chinese you don't say thank you. You will surprise Mandarin speakers by saying "na li, na li" which is a nice way to deny the truth of what is being said. They will say "I thought you Americans always said thank you." It is a large cultural difference, that comes out of the sense of humility Chinese try to show when being praised.

At the Polynesian cultural Center they say that Polynesians originated in China and were the progenitors of everyone from the Maori to the Tahitians (the last immigrants to Hawaii from Polynesia came from Tahiti). Whether this has anything to do or not with these linguistic concepts; I'm unwilling to even take a stab. I'm just a" houle" or a "bai ren." Both phrases mean "white guy," and I think that looking at all the mistakes whites have made about people from other cultures, I'm going to close this blog.

No comments:

Post a Comment