Can or No Can? Pidgin Speakers in the Workforce

Flickr: TheGirlsNY

Editor's Note: This is the second in a two-part series about whether there's a place for Pidgin in Hawaii schools. Read Part 1: Fo Teach Pidgin o Not Fo Teach Pidgin — Das Da Question.

In his “Da State of Pidgin Address,” Hawaii author and former University of Hawaii professor Lee Tonouchi includes a 63-line poem entitled “Dey Say if You Talk Pidgin You No Can ...”

The poem’s lines complete the sentence. Some examples:

be one doctor . . .
go mainland school . . .
work customer service . . .
write a ‘proper’ sentence. . .

“Ho, from reading dis poem look like you pretty much useless, good fo’ nahting den, if you talk Pidgin,” writes Tonouchi, the self-proclaimed “Pidgin Guerrilla.” “Destined for be da kine deadweight to society.”

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