Try Slow

People who have grown up in Hawaii usually speak a local dialect simply called pidgin here. I think of it as a sort of Creole that mixes the languages spoken by the many ethnic communities on the islands and takes some grammatical shortcuts. Most people also speak perfectly normal English, which they will use with anyone who does not seem local. Non-Hawaiian born residents usually pick up some pidgin phrases and intonations as they start to fit into the local lifestyle. After two years here, I still wouldn’t dare to use the little pidgin I know for fear of getting it wrong and still sounding like a mainlander.

Anyways, some pidgin is understandable in context, such as the bumper sticker that reads: “Try Wait.” The following sign makes me think you can use “try” in may different ways to suggest an action. It’s also an attention grabbing sign because of the Gothic lettering instead of the usual hand- or spray-painted sign:

Hand-lettered Gothic script sign that reads Try Slow, tacked to a telephone pole along a rural Kauai road.

I wonder if pidgin will survive now that there is less ethnic immigration to bring new words and more mainland TV idioms spread among school-age kids.

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