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The Voices of Eden

By Albert J. Schütz

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Book Id: WPLBN0002097002
Format Type: PDF eBook:
File Size: 122.58 MB
Reproduction Date: 8/4/2011

Title: The Voices of Eden  
Author: Albert J. Schütz
Language: English
Subject: Non Fiction, Social Sciences, Hawaiian Education
Collections: Authors Community, Education
Publication Date:
Publisher: University of Hawai'I Press
Member Page: Hale Kuamoʻo Hawaiian Language Center


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J. Schüt, B. A. (1994). The Voices of Eden. Retrieved from

Hawaiian history has been studied and described from many different points of view—cultural, archaeological, geographical, and botanical, among others. But very little has been written about Hawai'i's postcontact linguistic history: how outsiders first became aware of the Hawaiian language, how they and the Hawaiians were able to understand each other, and later, how they tried to record and analyze Hawaiian vocabulary and grammar. Our first records of European contact with the Hawaiian language are in the journals from Captain James Cook's third voyage, in which he and some of his crew recorded their efforts to communicate with this latest (and for Cook, the last) branch of the Polynesian peoples encountered on their exploration of the Pacific. Luckily for those of us interested in language, we had our counterparts over two centuries ago: some people who wrote down just a few words of Hawaiian, and others who were curious enough to set about gathering much longer lists of words. These reports vary in quality as well as in scope, often reflecting the native languages, training, and attitudes of those who collected them. None of them resembles in the slightest the full-scale dictionaries produced later. But they are our only written records of the Hawaiian language at that time and, if examined closely enough, can yield clues as to what it was like then. Just as these brief sketches contrast strongly with the latest Hawaiian dictionaries, so do some of the early statements about so-called primitive languages differ from our better understanding of language today. These differences reflect not only an increase in our knowledge about Hawaiian in particular during the last two centuries, but also some major changes in the way people view language in general.


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