Pidgin English now an official language of Hawaii

Hawaii is a melting pot of cultures and languages -- Hawaiian Pidgin English among them.

Story highlights

  • The U.S. Census Bureau took a survey of languages spoken in Hawaii other than English
  • Over 100 languages are spoken in Hawaii
  • "Choke cars" means "heavy traffic" in Pidgin

(CNN)Pidgin, spoken in Hawaii for decades, is now listed as one of the official languages in the islands.

The list was released by the U.S. Census Bureau in November after a five-year survey was conducted on bilingual speakers. The census surveyed more than 325,000 Hawaiian residents from 2009 to 2013, asking whether they spoke any language other than English at home.
    The results revealed a number of Pidgin and Hawaiian Pidgin speakers. Both were added to the census list that included over 100 languages, representative of the islands diversity.
    Pidgin is a combination of expressions and phrases that are recognizable to those who speak it. To non-Pidgin speakers, it may sound like slang. For example, "dat" means that and "fadda" means father or dad.
    "It's in their nature. That's what they know," said Patrick Wang, who has lived in Oahu for over 40 years. Depending on who he is speaking to, Wang said, "I can turn it on and off."
    To the locals, adding Pidgin to the official language list makes no difference to those who grew up speaking it and have been their whole lives, said Wang.