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Reviewed by:
  • A Dictionary of the Hawaiian Language
  • Emily Hawkins
Lorrin Andrews . 2003. A Dictionary of the Hawaiian Language. Waipahu, Hawai'i: Island Heritage Publishing. xxvii + 567 pp. ISBN 0-89610-374-9. US$19.99, cloth; $12.99, paper.

Hawaiian, a member of the Polynesian language family, is both an official language of the state of Hawai'i and a cornerstone of the movement within Hawai'i to retain and strengthen an indigenous presence. Educational programs in Hawaiian serve as models and goals to other indigenous groups within the United States who want to ensure that their own languages will not be lost. Concurrently there is significant cross-fertilization with innovations in Māori language development and programs, including the development of words for modern concepts. Given the ever-growing interest in Hawaiian, Island Heritage Publishing has republished Lorrin Andrews's 1865 classic work, A Dictionary of the Hawaiian Language. As the first full dictionary of the language, it has long been regarded as an indispensable primary source for scholars of language and history. This reprint makes available to the general public a reasonably priced readable version.

The 2003 Island Heritage version of this dictionary is illustrated and freshly introduced. Noenoe Silva provides an insightful introduction pointing out how the contrast of political climates and value systems of the mid eighteen and nineteen hundreds are revealed in differing translations in Andrews and the current Hawaiian Dictionary by Pukui and Elbert (P&E). Albert J. Schütz then details the work of Andrews in developing the 1865 dictionary, and his other work on the Hawaiian language. The material that follows has been retyped from the original dictionary. This includes Andrews original preface, the dictionary from Hawaiian to English, an English-Hawaiian vocabulary, and finally a chronological table of remarkable events connected with the history of the Hawaiian Islands. Although a note states that "except for corrections to obvious English misspellings, the content of the original dictionary has not been changed" (xix); there have, however, been a few unmentioned changes from the original if one thinks of the entire volume as constituting the dictionary.

In comparing the two versions, I find that W. D. Alexander's eight-page introductory remarks have been omitted. If the value of republishing this dictionary is to allow comparisons with more current thinking, as in the present P&E, this omission is unfortunate, because Alexander sets a tone for understanding the context within which the dictionary was written. Scholars still need to consult the original or the 1974 Charles E. Tuttle Company offprint to avail themselves of this piece. In place of the introductory remarks, a single page has been added that provides the present-day reader with abbreviations used in the dictionary. Another change can be seen in the use of column headers, particularly on the first column. Andrews used a three-letter notation to indicate the final word in each column on a page. In this dictionary, both headers spell out the entire word, and in the first column it indicates the first word, not the last. Entirely new in this [End Page 528] version are the illustrations of flora, fauna, and cultural items done by Ronald Lee in consultation with Kimo Armitage. These illustrations and the paper used in the book help to create the feel of something from a bygone era.

Andrews used the Hawaiian system of alphabetization [a e i o u h k l m n p w] in arranging the entries.1 Because of this system, the order of words such as papa, pau, poepoe, and ulu, as in the English system, would be ulu, pau, papa, and poepoe. This system, which did not need explaining in the original, should be explained for the modern audience that relies primarily on P&E's English system. Without such information, casual users may miss words that they are looking for. A few years ago, an article appeared in which the author said that the word 'ohana 'family' was not in use in old Hawai'i. He had searched for ohana in Andrews without knowing the system and had not found it. Another striking feature of the dictionary is the way in...