Pidgin: The Voice of Hawaiʻi

Pidgin: The Voice of Hawaiʻi

This one-hour documentary profiles the language of Hawai’i’s working people in its rise from plantation jargon to a source of island identity and pride. Born on sugar plantations and spoken by more than half of Hawai’i’s population, this language captures the essence of multi-ethnic Hawai’i and is the language of Hawai’i’s heart and soul. Once again under attack by educators and bloggers, will Pidgin survive? National PBS Broadcast 2009 – 2010.

Documentary directed by Marlene Booth, and co-produced by Kanalu Young & Marlene Booth, edited by Shirley Thompson. Promo produced, written & edited by Shirley Thompson.

Born on sugar plantations and spoken by more than half of Hawaiʻi’s population, the Pidgin language – part English, part Hawaiian, with pieces of Chinese, Japanese, and Tagalog mixed in – captures the essence of multi-ethnic Hawaiʻi. Pidgin: The Voice of Hawaiʻi profiles this working-class language from its rise from plantation jargon to a source of island identity and pride.

In the 1920s, English Standard Schools – government funded public schools that refused to admit Pidgin-speaking children – fueled anti-Pidgin, anti-Asian sentiment and left behind a legacy of shame in speaking Pidgin. Drawing on a variety of sources, including archival, academic and other expert commentary, interviews and performance to shed light on this colorful language, the documentary charts how over time, Pidgin speakers have been moved to take pride in their language.

Title: Pidgin: The Voice of Hawaiʻi
Client: Pacific Islanders in Communication
Date: 2010