Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tita’s Pidgin Ghost Stories

Whaaat? You stay on Maui and you no know who Tita is? (That’s pidgin for “What, you’re on Maui and you don’t know who Tita is?”)

Kathy “Tita” Collins is one of Maui’s treasures. A popular local comedian and radio personality at Mana’o Radio, Kathy often appears at schools and local events to emcee or tell stories. She switches into an alternative role, playing “Tita,” a wise-cracking, in your face, pidgin talking tough gal. 

Tita isn’t a name she made up, it’s what locals call a local woman with an attitude. Titas can range from downright mean and bitchy to assertive and standing one’s ground, depending on the context. 

Historically, tita has had a negative meaning, but women like Kathy Collins are taking back the word tita. Kathy’s Tita is funny and friendly, more like a gruff older sister who’s watching out for you.

Recently, for Halloween, Tita told some obake (Japanese for ghost, and now a local pidgin word) tales at the Kihei Public Library and the Bailey House Museum. Her pidgin is not too hard to understand and she gives  She makes her pidgin easy to understand, so anyone can get it.

A few pidgin phrases she uses:

1. Stink eye. Giving someone da stink eye is the same as giving someone a dirty look.
2. Shoots!  Depends on the context, but can mean “sure” or “okay” or can be an expression of dismay like “crap” or “drat.”
3. Garenz ball barenz. Means “for sure” and comes from guarantee and ball bearings. I have no idea how this phrase originated.
4. Make (pronounced mah-kay) means dead.
5. Moe or moe moe is sleep.
6. Pupule is crazy.

A few other comments on pidgin:
1. The sound “th” is not pronounced. Like if you’re saying “three,” it’s pronounced “tree.” Or if something is so thick, it’s “so tick.”
2. Pidgin uses a lot of double negatives like “I no feel nothing.” Or “No more nothing left.”
3. Dakine is a filler word, kind of like the word “like” in Valley Girl speak. It can be used as an adjective, a noun, and just about anything else.
4. The word “stay” is used in place of “is.” Like in asking, “Where he stay?” (Where is he?)

I’m not an expert on pidgin by any means, but you can study it just like any language, by taking classes and studying books. 

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