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137 he University of Hawai‘i may not leap to mind as a guardian of Hawaii’s indigenous speech and culture, but that in fact has been its historical role. Only the University’s abiding commitment to teach Hawaiian has kept it alive as a disciplined language spoken now by increasing thousands of people in these islands. At the beginning of this century, when the University was starting up, Hawaiian was alive in Hawaiian-speech communities, still numerous but in decline. There was also a “mixed” linguistic sharing between the native Hawaiian population and those haoles who could speak the language fluently. Indeed, in the last half of the nineteenth century, the kingdom was officially bilingual, with Hawaiian used in the legislature and in the courts of justice. After the overthrow of the monarchy in 1893, English became the standard language of instruction in the schools, but the rapid demise of spoken Hawaiian was not yet foreseen. A critical factor was the decision of the territorial legislature against providing for Hawaiian to be used as the language of instruction in public schools with large enrollments of Hawaiian students. Another kind of speech was replacing both Hawaiian and English in the everyday discourse of the mass of people. This was “pidgin,” or what used to be called “broken English,” whose basic structure was Hawaiian with the addition of auxiliary verbs borrowed from other languages, notably Portuguese, and a changing mix of Japanese, Chinese, and English words and phrases. Pure Hawaiian was more and more becoming limited to services in Hawaiian churches. Educators were well aware of the need for local students to master English in order to succeed in the classroom and in the world of business dominated by Americans. From its founding, the University accepted only English as the language of instruction , except of course in foreign language classes. In its first stage—as a college from 1907 to 1920—the small number of languages offered did not include Hawaiian. T 4 THE HAWAIIAN LANGUAGE AND HAWAIIAN STUDIES Rubellite K. Johnson 138 Manoa Colleges and Programs In early 1921, after the territorial legislature had expanded the College of Hawaii to become the University, the Board of Regents was asked in a legislative inquiry to declare its intentions with regard to Hawaiian. The board replied that “it has been a part of the plan of the University of Hawaii to give instruction in the Hawaiian language . . . . The University should become the center for the study of Hawaiian and a strong effort made to preserve the language in its purity.” Frederick W. Beckley, who had served as the last official Hawaiian interpreter in the Supreme Court of the monarchy and had taught Hawaiian history and language at the Territorial Normal School, was engaged as instructor in the Hawaiian language , offering a year’s course, Hawaiian 100–101, described in the catalog as “a course for beginners [covering] pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, reading of easy prose, composition and conversation.” A second two-semester course, added in 1923, included the “reading of legends, mele, and more difficult prose, including legal documents . The figurative language. Conversation. 3 credits.” After five years as instructor, Beckley was promoted to the rank of professor in 1926, his last year of service. He was succeeded by Professor John Henry Wise, a former territorial senator, after whom the University’s first athletic field was named. Alone, he taught the curriculum in Hawaiian, which by then included elementary, intermediate, and advanced language courses, as well as Hawaiian literature and arts. The courses offered by Beckley and Wise were broad in scope. For example, Beckley ’s treatment of syntax addressed not only the rules of Hawaiian but also its historical development within the Polynesian group of Austronesian languages. Another Beckley subject, “Comparison of Hawaiian and European Classics,” in today’s political climate might be laughed to scorn, notwithstanding that there still may be students who would enjoy Hawaiian translations of Shakespeare’s plays or Aesop’s fables. What Beckley and Wise accomplished between 1922 and 1934 (when Wise retired and was succeeded by the Reverend Henry Judd) was to lay the foundation for what eventually became the University’s degree program in the Hawaiian language, a curriculum unique in the academic world. In 1926 a significant change was made in the place of Hawaiian in formal education : the University listed it, along with Latin, Greek, French, German, Spanish, Chinese , and Japanese, as the languages offered from which candidates for the bachelor of arts...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780824863500
Related ISBN
9780824820060
MARC Record
OCLC
45843003
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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