News Hawaiian style and the first new language in the U.S. in 80 years

As a communications, marketing and public relations professional, I have a strange habit while traveling: I love to watch the local television news. Call me weird, but I find this a fascinating study in local culture.

For example, when I travel to Los Angeles for work or fun, I always tune in to the local CBS station. For readers from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, I have two words for you: Paul Magers.

In Hawaii, the local newscasts are fascinating. First, the news coverage is Oahu and Honolulu-focused, but also covers the other islands including the Big Island, Maui and Kauai. The local newscasters, especially those covering weather and sports, are almost always decked out in aloha wear—fun, colorful Hawaiian clothing. The weather? Well, it’s almost always 78 and usually sunny, but the surf report is ever-changing and necessary to report. I once heard that in the Hawaiian language, they don’t even have a word for weather since it really doesn’t change.

On our most recent trip to the Big Island in March of this year, I tuned in to discover something fascinating. Linguists had discovered the first new documented language in the United States in 80 years: Hawaiian Sign Language. Leave it to the Hawaiians to make language this beautiful. Hawaiian Sign Language, which researchers estimate dates back to the 1800s, is not a subset of American Sign Language. Rather, it has a distinct vocabulary and grammar. On the news, they showed a demonstration of Hawaiian Sign Language versus American Sign Language.

No surprise that it was beautiful to watch.


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