Experts say the Census Bureau recognition is long overdue.
Leonard Kam, who was working behind the pupu counter at Alicia’s Market, said Pidgin isn't just a language, it's a culture.
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
It was born on Hawaii's plantation fields. It's now been recognized by the U.S. Census.
Pidgin, the unmistakable, enchanting language of locals has been recognized as an official language.
In data collected from 2009-2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii and Maui counties, 1,390 respondents over the age of five listed Pidgin or Hawaiian Pidgin as the language they spoke at home.
"It's a language separate from English, distinct from English. The problem is it shares a vocabulary with English," said author and University of Hawaii at Manoa Professor Kent Sakoda.
Scholars stress Pidgin is definitely not just slang.
"’He when saw da movie’ ... that's not right for most Pidgin speakers because you're marking past tense twice," noted Christina Higgins, co-director of the Charlene Sato Center for Pidgin, Creole and Dialect Studies.
Like other languages, Pidgin is also more than just the spoken word.
"It represents Hawaii. It represents local style," said Leonard Kam, who was working behind the always busy pupu counter at Alicia’s Market on Friday.
Sakoda, the UH-Manoa, says the Census recognition is well-deserved. "Even a few years back people, it would not have listed it. It's a long time coming."
Or in other words according to Kam, “we on da map."