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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Mele Kalikimaka!

Christmas tree, Honolulu, Dec. 2001Christmas tree, Honolulu
Dec. 2001

It looks as if Kalikimaka is going to be more Mele than in the past several years. I can say no more! For now.

As I mentioned last year, "Mele Kalikimaka" is Hawaiian for "Merry Christmas". Why "Kalikimaka"? Because Hawaiian only has seven consonants: H,K,L,M,N,P, and W; words containing other consonants have to muddle along the best they can. But how exactly do you get "Kalikimaka" from "Christmas"? Beats me.

Interestingly, there's a consonant shift from other Polynesian languages into Hawaiian. For example, tabu (taboo, duh) in many Polynesian languages is rendered kapu in Hawaiian. There's an interesting little article on it here, which also covers the evolution of the muumuu (the word, at least).

Anyhow, Mele Kalikimaka to all!