Story by Kathy Collins
Listen to Liddo Bitta Tita read aloud in pidgin:
So, how you like my new space? Not bad, eh? Took me five years, but finally I wen’ move from “Talk Story” to da back page. Dass like prime time, you know.
See, when businesses advah-tise inside magazines, they pay extra fo’ put their ads on top da back inside covah. So dis page is like da Supah Bowl. Or Wailea. Choice real estate.
But no worry, I not going get swell head an’ act all high makamaka, all stuck up, jus’ ‘cause I wen’ move to da fancy neighborhood. Dat kine stuffs no mattah to me. Da most important t’ing is dat now, I always goin’ have da las’ word. Dass a big t’ing fo’ us titas, you know, getting da las’ word.
Some guys always like get da firs’ word; soon as you make eye contack, they stay open their mouth. Some guys gotta get da firs’ word, da las’ word, and all da ones in batween. Not me. I figgah, da less words you use, da more time you get fo’ listen an’ fo’ t’ink.
Dass why I t’ink pidgin is da bes’ language. When come to words, pidgin is way mo’ efficient dan regulah English. An’ yeah, pidgin is one real language. Da real name is Hawaiian Creole English. “Pidgin” is pidgin fo’ Hawaiian Creole English. You see what I mean about mo’ efficient? An’ pidgin is mo’ honest dan regulah English.
Fo’ exampoh, when somebody tell you, “May I have a word wit’ you?” you know awreddy, they lying. They not going stop at one word. They going use one whole pile words fo’ tell you they not happy.
Us titas, we no waste time li’dat. We go, “Eh!” (Translation: “May I have a word wit’ you?”) And den we stick to our word. One word. Da word is “What?!” Way mo’ efficient. When you stay all upset wit’ somebody, dass all you gotta say, and da res’ is whatchoocall, implied. “What?!” is short for “What you t’ink you doing?!” or “What I look like, one idjit?!” or “What you going do now, genius?”
So when you stay talkin’ to one tita, make sure you no waste her time. Speshly if she stay giving you da stink eye an’ den she ask, “What?!” Da correck ansah is, “Sorry.”
What is da mos’ useful word in da pidgin language. I not askin’ you, I tellin’ you. “What?!” is da mos’ useful word in pidgin. ‘Cause you can use ‘em fo’ question an’ ansah, plus you can use ‘em fo’ express all kine diff’rent emotions. “Eh” is one noddah word li’dat. Check out dis sampoh convah-sation:
Dem: What? (curious)
You: What! (angry)
Dem: What?! (defiant)
You: What?!! (incredulous)
Dem: Eh. . . . (cautious)
You: What? (exasperated)
Dem: Eh? (contrite)
You: Eh. (forgiving)
Dem: Eh! (relieved)
You see how easy? No waste time, no waste words.
Pidgin get plenny words li’dat — multi-purpose kine. One a my fav’rites is “So?!” So many uses, so long as you use da right tone an’ da right face.
Challenging: So?! (stick out yo’ chin an’ give small kine stink eye)
Scolding: So! (put yo’ hands on yo’ hips an’ give full on stink eye)
Romantic: So. . . ? (stretch out da “oh” and give one sly grin)
But da bes’ word of all is aloha. Hello, goo’bye, kindness, mercy, sweetheart, compassion, love. I try fo’ use aloha every time I talk to somebody, even da bill collectahs. Dat way they no mind when I always get da las’ word. ‘Cause how you going argue wit’ “Aloha?”
Tita is the pidgin-speaking alter ego of local actress and Mana‘o Radio cofounder/DJ Kathy Collins. Both Tita and Ms. Collins grew up on Maui.