Close this search box.

A New Hawaiian Language Dictionary 

Cover Image: Masthead of Kuu Hae Hawaii published on June 6, 1913.

Aloha Nūhou Monday!

In 1913, Rev. Lyons Kakani, editor of Kuu Hae Hawaii newspaper commented on the Territorial legislature allotting $10,000 for a Hawaiian dictionary. John Wise, a young Hawaiian politician was selected to be on the editing committee for this dictionary, Kakani appears to be cautiously optimistic that it could support the perpetuation of Hawaiian language.

Image: Portrait of John H. Wise, appearing in “The Story of Hawaii and Its Builders,” Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Ltd., p. 890.

Image: “John Wise no ke Komisina…” Kuu Hae Hawaii, June 6, 1913, pp. 2-3.

John Wise on the Editing Committee of a Hawaiian Dictionary.

This is a matter to be greatly admired, the placing of a young Hawaiian to do this important task, editing his mother tongue which is nearly becoming the Japanese language or part English by the new generation of Hawaiʻi today. When examining the reasoning of the Legislature behind the passing of this act, it is as if this book is being developed to clarify the Hawaiian language, and it will end up in the Government Library; or perhaps that book will just become furnishing for government offices, without thought of it bringing the mother tongue to the people who cannot even speak some. Then this book will not become a book that revitalizes the Hawaiian language, and the time will come when what is spoken of comes true – “Hawaiian language is a dying language,” because, its death is made clear in this act. However, Hawaiian language is not a language that is going to die, it will live as long as there remains Hawaiian blood in a man or a woman; or it will be partially spoken by the new generation. Here are three ways to perpetuate the Hawaiian language:

First – There be a comprehensive Hawaiian dictionary, along with its sentence structures shown using terms familiar in daily conversation.

Second – Make Hawaiian language a part of the curriculum taught in the Government Schools, for children when reaching 13 years of age.

Third – In the home, Hawaiian language should also be spoken.

(Kuu Hae Hawaii, 6/6/1913, pp. 2-3)

Image: Title page of the new “Andrews-Parker” dictionary.

Image: Preface of the new “Andrews-Parker” dictionary.

The new Hawaiian dictionary was published in 1922 as “A Dictionary of the Hawaiian Language by Lorrin Andrews, Revised by Henry H. Parker.” The manuscript was prepared by H. H. Parker, with assistance from Bishop Museum staff. John S. Emerson, Stephen Mahaulu, and other Hawaiian scholars, possibly including John Wise, collaborated on this project using manuscript cards of terms from the original Andrews Dictionary. Found in Bishop Museum Archives are copies of this “Andrews-Parker” dictionary with blank pages tipped in for notes. These notes are added by people like Queen Liliʻuokalani, Curtis Iaukea, and Mary Kawena Pukui.

Image: Note by Mary Kawena Pukui found on page following p. 194 of the new “Andrews-Parker” dictionary. “Hoʻopeʻapeʻa” is not found in this dictionary, or the dictionary by Pukui and Elbert. Bishop Museum Archives, MS PAC LA35 p. 194a.

Image: Notes by Curtis Iaukea found on page following p. 216 of the new “Andrews-Parker” dictionary. Bishop Museum Archives, MS PAC LA34 p. 216a.

This post is part of He Aupuni Palapala: Preserving and Digitizing the Hawaiian Language Newspapers, a partnership between Bishop Museum and Awaiaulu with assistance from Kamehameha Schools. Mahalo nui loa to Hawaii Tourism Authority for their support. Learn more about this project here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up for our Newsletter

Nūhou Mondays

Introducing Nūhou Mondays

Member Spotlight

Paula Pua


Patience Namaka Wiggin